Work is under way on a £7m scheme to improve Windle Island, one of Merseyside's busiest road junctions.
The project is expected to take 40 weeks to complete and should result in improved pedestrian safety, smooth traffic flow and better access to and from St Helens.
But permanent road closures mean delays are likely, so motorists using the A580 East Lancashire Road and A570 Rainford Bypsss have been advised to consider changing their routes.
St Helens Council leader Derek Long said: "This investment will make Windle Island junction safer and easier for the tens of thousands of cars, cycles and pedestrians that use this junction every day.
“The changes will improve residents’ journeys and ensure there is capacity for the borough to grow by ensuring better traffic flow along the East Lancs for key locations such as the Haydock Industrial Site.
“Obviously with such an investment there will be some disruption in the short term, but we hope residents appreciate we are aiming to keep this to a minimum.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool city region, said: “Our main purpose as a combined authority is to create the right conditions for our economy to grow and benefit everyone in the city region.
“We are investing £3.85m in these improvements because we recognise that the Windle Island junction is a key element in the city region’s transport infrastructure. Increasing its capacity will address current severe congestion, safety and network capacity issues and will give a boost to the whole of the Liverpool city region economy.”
The Windle Island junction improvement scheme was approved by the Liverpool city region combined authority following a successful business case submission to address key issues in St Helens and to support economic growth in the wider city region.
The scheme will cost a total of £7,247,000 – half of which is being funded by the Local Growth Fund through the Liverpool city region combined authority’s single investment fund, with the other half funded by St Helens Council’s own receipts, borrowing and highways capital programme.
The work will include:
· A new four-lane southbound approach to Windle Island junction, providing a left turning lane to A580 eastbound towards Manchester and a right turning lane to A580 westbound towards Liverpool.
· The reintroduction of two lanes southbound through the junction, with the left-hand lane for St Helens town centre via Rainford Road (including Tesco and Starbucks access), and the right-hand lane for Eccleston and Prescot via Bleak Hill Road.
· A new left turn deceleration lane from A580 westbound onto A570 southbound to reduce queue lengths and improve safety.
· Two dedicated right-turn lanes from the A580 westbound (towards Liverpool) onto the A570 northbound (towards Rainford).
· A new 40 mph speed limit around the junction to improve safety.
The scheme is expected to be completed by spring.
Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times via the permanent crossing route, but a diversion of the existing pathway if needed will be installed around the construction works, suitably signed.