By Phil Sim
The controversial £11m regeneration of Salford’s Chapel Street got off to a chaotic start after it caused rush hour madness yesterday.
The project, designed to create a new gateway to Salford City Centre, has coincided with continuing work at three A6 junctions, leaving commuters gridlocked for over four miles.
The enthusiasm surrounding the redevelopment appears to have been deflated, with Conservative councillor Robin Garrido slamming the project he once supported.
“When you see the chaos, the leadership of the council has to say ‘we have made a mistake,’ said Mr Garrido.
Drivers had been warned of significant delays when work got underway, but this did little to relinquish their anger.
One driver said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous; I have been in the jam for more than an hour and hardly moved.”
Mr Garrido said: “Businesses will get fed up of not being able to move around and will get out.”
This isn’t what planners had anticipated, after having hoped to see the project create 11,000 jobs through the combination of shops, cafes, hotels and business and leisure premises, as well as creating almost 850 new homes.
The scheme received unanimous backing from the City Council back in January 2010, after two years of consultation with the community and stakeholders, and was ranked joint 29th in the country’s top 100 regeneration projects by ‘The Planning Magazine,’ alongside MediaCityUK.
The route links Salford University to Manchester City Centre and is a popular commuter route, therefore plans to reduce the lanes for cars to one per direction to calm traffic angered regular users of the road.
Rachel Kirkham, who commutes from outside Salford, believes there should have been better communication to non-residents.
She said: “It’s crazy, if these appalling plans are completed there will be chaos on this road.”
But leading planner Councillor Derek Antrobus leaped to the defence of the ambitious plans,