The closure has caused widespread outrage in the town with people complaining about increased congestion
The reopening of the busy Crewe road that’s been closed for the 80-week programme of roadworks has been delayed until next year. The A530 Middlewich Road, the main access to Leighton Hospital, has been shut between Pyms Lane and Smithy Lane since work on the North West Crewe Package scheme began in May.
It was scheduled to reopen towards the end of next month. However, Cheshire East Council has now confirmed that it won’t be open until January ‘due to a planning delay’.
According to Cheshire East, United Utilities discovered that the original pipework installed underground in the area was ‘not as recorded’. This meant investigation work was needed to ‘determine the material of the original pipework’ before new diversion work could take place.
Cllr Craig Browne, chair of Cheshire East Council’s highways and transport committee, said: “It is very frustrating that this technical issue has arisen and as a result we find ourselves facing a delay.
“We have been working closely with United Utilities to set out what is required from them going forward on this vital strategic infrastructure project for Crewe. We are of course disappointed that this technical issue has come up and has delayed the planned reopening.
“In order to recover time, residents will now see works taking place at the weekends to try to claw back as much as possible, in an attempt to reopen the road before the target date of January. I can only apologise to residents for the prolonged period of disruption.”
Gareth Davies, customer delivery manager at United Utilities, said: “We have been working closely with Cheshire East Council and Balfour Beatty over the past few months to plan the six packages of work required of United Utilities as part of the NWCP.
“These involve diverting existing mains water pipes at a number of locations, in a way that does not cause any disruption to supplies for our tens of thousands of customers in the area, including the hospital.
“Unfortunately, there were some delays of approximately eight weeks encountered by us and we sincerely apologise for any impact this may have had to the overall project. There were a number of factors at play, including the complexity of the work required, as well as the need to do some elements of work at night to keep our teams safe. We were also in a time of high demand due to the hot weather, and were carefully managing the resources required across our region.
“Of our six packages of work for the North West Crewe Package, two have now been finished and we are working hard to ensure the remaining four are completed on or before their estimated dates. We remain committed to working directly with Cheshire East Council and Balfour Beatty on this important strategic infrastructure project.”
The closure and accompanying 10.6-mile diversion have been the subject of numerous complaints in the area. Traffic on nearby Minshull New Road has increased, with the local chippy claiming it was forced to close as a result of the impact, while a hospital visitor also spoke of her panicked journey navigating the closure while rushing her baby to A&E.
It is hoped the North West Crewe Package (NWCP) will improve roads and junctions around the Leighton area. As well as easing congestion, the aim is to improve access to Leighton Hospital while bringing ‘opportunities housing developments and for local businesses to expand’.
This includes for the delivery of 1,250 homes in the area off Leighton Road. The two plans, one for 850 houses and another for 400, were approved by Cheshire East Council in 2020.
The improvements will include:
- The construction of a new 2.6km single carriageway road
- Seven new roundabouts
- Realignment of Smithy Lane
- Flowers Lane junction improvements on A530 Middlewich Road and Minshull New Road
- Extension of the Connect 2 walking and cycling route to Leighton Hospital and North West Crewe.
A section of Minshull New Road outside Leighton Academy will also be permanently closed to traffic. This is to create a safer environment for children arriving and departing the school.
- 16:21, 15 SEP 2022
- UPDATED16:26, 15 SEP 2022