|Preston New Road|
|To:||Five Barred Gate (SD604301)|
|Distance:||5.4 miles (8.7 km)|
|Meets:||A6078, B6447, A6119, B6230, A59|
|Old route now:||B6236, A678|
|Route outline (key)|
The A677 is a road that has suffered a fall from grace with numerous changes to the road network around Blackburn. Originally the A677 formed part of the Preston-Halifax Trunk Road, but now it's a short primary link between Blackburn town centre and the A59.
Blackburn - Five Barred Gate
Starting in Blackburn town centre on the A6078 outside of Castleway House, the road forms part of Preston New Road - a turnpike era construction - and heads west towards Corporation Park. This was the 'posh' end of Blackburn in the Victorian era and as a result the road is lined with fairly grand houses that are now in a mixed condition. Junctions wise, there is a fairly busy double mini-roundabout outside of Corporation Park and a cramped set of traffic signals at the top of Montague Street, which between 2001-03 formed a temporary length of the inner ring road whilst the Barbara Castle Way extension was built. This hill start was fearsome and featured regularly on driving tests as the test centre was originally nearby.
The next length of Preston New Road is fairly typical urban fayre, with a number of pedestrian islands and poorly parked vehicles. Eventually, the B6447 is reached at a mini-roundabout. This is in a very leafy part of town and is quite pleasant on a warm summer's day. Another signalised junction gives access to Pleasington, before the A677 dips down a hill and passes Beardwood Hospital. Originally, this section was 40mph and signed entirely with pre-Worboys era repeaters but it was reduced without much fanfare in the early 2000s. Typically, this length is now enforced by cameras.
The next set of signals is with the A6119 northern bypass and here the speed limit finally rises to 50mph. This speed limit is very old, and was put in place when the road here was still trunk and overloaded with traffic. The climb up from Shackerley Bar used to be a three-lane single-carriageway, somewhat disparagingly nicknamed 'Coroner's Corridor' before it was removed in the 1990s, but the rest of the road has always been two-lane.
A series of sweeping bends takes the road into Mellor Brook where a 40mph speed limit was installed in 2008. The limit rises to 50 at the other end of the village and there is a fabulously long straight that saw some manic overtakes in the trunk road era. Along this straight lies Samlesbury Hall, and a number of houses. At the end of the straight another series of bends brings the road to its conclusion with the A59 at Five Barred Gate. Until the late 2000s this was a signalised T-junction and a TOTSO for the A59; the junction is now a signalised roundabout.
The A677 used to be much longer, but the opening of the M65 signalled the start a huge change. East of Blackburn town centre the A677 was always non-primary but formed a fast moorland road to Haslingden, but it suffered from a lack of connectivity with the A56, unlike the nearby B6232 which had a direct connection. As such, when the B6232 was connected to the M65 and renumbered as a duplicate A6177 (it's since been renumbered back) the A677 was truncated back to the junction with the A679 at the Toll Bar pub near Audley.
In 2001, the creation of the Blackburn Orbital Route saw the start of a number of numbering changes in the town. In 2005, the A679 was taken away from Audley Range and rerouted to meet the A678 at Furthergate, which itself was extended to meet the ring road at Copy Nook. This all but killed off the A677.
However, over a decade since the renumbering exercise was completed, there are still dozens of signs referring to the A677. In Rochdale, signs still proudly state "Blackburn (A677)" as do signs joining the A56 Edenfield Bypass. Some updating would not go amiss here...
For some time during the 1950s and 1960s, the A677 was truncated at its western end by running the A59 along Preston New Road and up the former A6063 to rejoin the old route at Mellor Brook. Today, the A59 has been moved back (although its original course lies under the runway of Samlesbury Aerodrome), with the A677 starting again in Salmesbury.