THE Bay Gateway was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire today, in a special ceremony at Lancaster and Morecambe College, which sits at the start of the new road.

At the event the Lord-Lieutenant, Lord Shuttleworth KG KCVO, met local stakeholders, including residents, business people and representatives from local agencies, and unveiled a plaque marking the opening of the new road.

The biggest new road to be built in Lancashire for decades, the Bay Gateway is expected to boost economic growth by providing better access to the Heysham peninsula. It had been under construction since January 2014 and opened to traffic in October last year.

The 4.8km route completes the connection from 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.

Work on the entire project is due to be completed during the spring, with aspects such as landscaping and signing currently being finished.

County Councillor Jennifer Mein, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The opening of the Bay Gateway has been an enormous landmark for Lancashire and I'm very glad we have now had the official opening.

"In the few months that traffic has been using the new road we have seen the difference it has been made to local people and businesses in terms of reducing travel times and congestion.

"Lancashire County Council has a proud history of road building, being responsible for the first ever section of motorway when the Preston bypass opened in 1958 – the Bay Gateway is another significant improvement to our transport infrastructure which will benefit the economy of the whole county.

"It is already reducing congestion I look forward to seeing how the road helps create local jobs by improving travel to Heysham and Morecambe, and the port, power stations and nearby employment areas."

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "The Bay Gateway is providing a vital link from the industrial areas of Heysham and Morecambe to the M6 and is hugely benefitting motorists by cutting congestion in and around

Lancaster, speeding up journeys and boosting the local economy. I'm delighted that this road has opened."

The main part of the Bay Gateway 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 the city, including a major new park and ride site at junction 34.

Heysham 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 fields and wind farms.

The road has reduced congestion in the Lancaster area especially on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges, and in Carnforth.