A PUBLIC inquiry is due to begin over the controversial plans for a relief road in Sefton.
The project, known as the Thornton Relief Road, will create a bypass to reduce congestion at Green Lane by diverting traffic from Southport Road to Switch Island.
The development will cover 26 hectares of land, which will cover the bypass, highways connecting the road to existing roads, new bridleways and off-site planting areas.
The £18.6m route will link Thornton with Switch Island, cutting journey times for commuters travelling into Liverpool and easing congestion in Thornton and Crosby and improving access to the M57 and M58.
Land was set to be bought by compulsory purchase order to make way for the project but some landowners are appealing against the CPOs.
Cllr John Fairclough, of Sefton Council’s cabinet member for transportation, said: “The public inquiry is something we always knew might happen and was always timed in to the link road project plan.
“Although a new road of some form has been on the agenda for many years, this phase of the legal process could only start once an agreed, and fully-funded, road scheme was in place.
“This formal legal process has now led to the forthcoming inquiry.
“Our legal team has been making the necessary preparations over recent months and the council remains fully committed to this much-needed transport scheme.”
Former Lib Dem councillor Jack Colbert, was one of many campaigning for the road.
He told the Post: “This has been going on for years, and now outside environmental groups are protesting and the few people with the CPOs.
“I understand this and I feel sorry for them, but at the end of the day there has got to be a balance and we have got to make the quality of life for residents in Thornton and the surrounding areas much better.
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he hoped the public inquiry would be over quickly so work could get underway.
Mr Esterson said: “Of course I want to see the work get underway as soon as possible. People have already waited for 50 years or more for this. But we have to respect the views of everyone and take time to address any objections that come up along the way.
“Not only will it ease congestion around Thornton, but it will improve traffic flow in other parts of my constituency too, including Aintree, Maghull and Lydiate, and it will improve access to the motorway network for people in Crosby and Formby.
“Too many people have campaigned too hard for too long to allow this scheme to reach a dead end.”
The inquiry, which is expected to last a couple of days, begins next Tuesday at Bootle Town Hall.