Blackburn Arterial Road - the first modern road project
Road improvement was often limited to laying tarmacadam and occasionally widening the line of the road, although many primary routes remained (and sometimes still do remain) on the twisty course of the original turnpike. Inevitably, all through traffic was filtered through the town centre. The first modern road project designed to alleviate this problem locally was the 'Arterial Road', classified as the A6119 and comprising of Yew Tree Drive, Ramsgreave Drive, Brownhill Drive and Whitebirk Drive - essentially, a northern bypass for the town. The Arterial Road was opened on October 18th 1928; the introduction to the souvenir booklet gives a good indication of the road's function:
"The work on the construction of the Arterial Road was commenced in 1921, with two main objects in view. It was a suitable scheme for relieving the heavy amount of unemployment in Blackburn at that time, resulting from the Great War, and also from the point of view of relieving the congestion in the centre of the town, caused by very heavy traffic from Yorkshire and East Lancashire to the West Coast seaside resorts and to the North, by diverting this traffic around the east and North sides of the Town....The whole of the work including the construction of the bridges has been carried out by the 'Unemployed' men of the Borough so far as concerns the work in the Borough, and by 'Unemployed' men of Rishton, for the length of the road passing through the Urban District of Rishton. All men engaged on the work, with the exception of the foremen, were supplied through the Labour Exchanges".
Major engineering works included three reinforced concrete underbridges (two over railways and one over the canal) and brick and steel girder overbridge carrying the main railway line to Burnley at Whitebirk. Incredibly, no major earth-moving machinery was used in laying the line of the road - it was mainly carried out by large gangs of men with picks and shovels, and was described as 'bracing and healthy'! The total cost of the project was in the region of £155,000. Although the road's immediate effect was to ease town-centre traffic congestion, it also encouraged the development of housing schemes along its length. Indeed, nearly £5000 of the total budget was spent on providing branch roads for the new Brownhill Housing Scheme.