Heysham to M6 Link road already creating jobs and investment
One year after work began on the Heysham to M6 Link Road, the project is already delivering on promises to create jobs and attract new investment to north Lancashire.
Lancashire County Council's construction partners Costain has taken on 80 people from the area as part of a pledge to ensure a minimum of 100 local unemployed people will receive training and jobs during construction. They have also employed five apprentices.
The project has also been a boost for local contractors and suppliers, and encouraged other businesses to invest ahead of the better transport links and resulting economic growth which the road is predicted to bring following completion in summer 2016.
Daniel Ternent, project manager at Lafarge Tarmac, the construction solutions company whose role involves supplying key materials including aggregate, asphalt and ready-mix concrete to the project, said: "Early collaboration and working closely with Costain has helped us to maintain and grow our local contract haulage fleet, as well supporting local haulage companies. We will deliver over 800,000 tonnes of mixed aggregates and asphalt as well as 25,000 cubic metres of concrete over the life of the project, which is great for local business and local jobs.
"In addition we’ve created an additional role in our business at our local quarry, as well as two at the new ready-mix plant at Leapers Wood which was primarily installed to supply the project."
Alistair Eagles, managing director Irish Sea, Seatruck Ferries Ltd, said: "Seatruck is really excited about the development of the new road which has generated renewed interest from companies who are already looking to base their haulage operations in Heysham because of the new road and the certainty it will bring to journey times.
"We have been investing heavily in new ships and we are confident that with the right ships, the new road and new customers basing themselves here, we will see an increase in business at Heysham port, bringing investment for the area and jobs for the local community.
"We have already seen one of the largest transport companies in Ireland move some of their operations to Heysham, which is indicative of the level of confidence generated by the link road. They previously did not ship through Heysham."
Levi Watts, 23, from Morecambe is one of the many local people Costain has employed over the past year and has received training as an apprentice surveyor. He said: "I’ve come from knowing nothing about construction a year ago. I was working in a bakery and I noticed Costain were coming to build the road. I wanted a change in my work and I’ve never looked back. I’m now on a two year apprenticeship in surveying, which I enjoy very much."
County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The Heysham to M6 Link has always been about more than building a new road – creating this much better connection to the Heysham peninsula will bring economic growth across the region.
"The road is now really starting to take shape, and it's great to see that at this early stage companies are already investing to take advantage of the better connections that will be in place once it's finished."
Following an initial phase in which 1 million cubic metres of earth was moved to create a path for the link road, Costain is now working on the construction of 11 major structures needed to take it over and under existing infrastructure.
The most eye-catching phase of the link road project will begin in March 2015 when the steelwork to create the new bridge across the River Lune will begin. This will see a huge 1200 tonne crane being built to lift into place the massive steel beams.
The new £124.5m link road will connect the Heysham peninsula directly to the M6, providing better access to Morecambe and industrial areas which include the Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations. It will also reduce congestion in the Lancaster area especially on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges.
The port, the third largest in the North West, is developing as a hub for services to Ireland. It is the supply base for major offshore gas field and wind farms.
The main part of the scheme involves constructing a 4.8km dual carriageway from the A589 between Morecambe and Lancaster to an upgraded Junction 34 on the M6, with additional measures to improve transport in Lancaster City.