Road length

The Department for Transport releases yearly figures on road lengths by local authority. The results are split by various road classifications and are listed in the following table.  Figures are available for the Lancashire-12 area, and the two unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool.  

Lancashire Roads 

For the Lancashire-14 area as a whole, there are 171.1 km of motorways and 795.2 km of 'A' roads. In total, the road network in Lancashire-14 in 2016 amounted to 7,991.0 km, with the various classifications of minor roads accounting for a large proportion of total kilometres.  

Having initiated England's first ever motorway, the M6 Preston bypass, Lancashire has a top-rate road communications infrastructure including the M6, M55, M58, M61 and M65 motorways that together provide both north-south and east-west rapid access to other parts of the region and beyond. Connectivity within the sub-region is also good.

The new Heysham M6 link road aims, amongst other things, to improve access to Heysham Port. It is a two lane dual carriageway from the Heysham and Morecambe peninsular to junction 34 of the M6. The 4.86km dual carriageway also has a footpath and cycleway along the entire route. It was officially opened on March 2nd 2017 and the entire project should be completed during the Spring, but is not included in the lengths in the table.  

Road length, 2016 Length (km)

 Road type  Lancashire-12  Blackburn with Darwen  Blackpool  Lancashire-14  North West  Great Britain
 All roads 6,982.9 550.2 457.9 7,991.0 37,113 396,719
 Motorways 162.7 8.0 0.4 171.1 646 3,649
 Trunk 150.9 8.0 0.0 158.9 625 3,608
Principal  11.8 0.0 0.4 12.2 22 41
'A' roads  700.9 54.4 39.9 795.2 3,992 46,815
Trunk Rural  23.6 0.0 0.0 23.6 259 8,056
Trunk Urban  10.0 0.0 0.0 10.0 30 409
Principal Rural  452.6 16.2 1.5 470.3 2,063 27,665
Principal Urban  214.7 38.2 38.4 291.3 1,640 10,686
Minor roads 6,119.3 487.3 417.6 7,024.7 32,475 346,254
Rural (B) class 311.3 7.3 0.8 319.4 1,280 24,795
Urban (B class) 145.6 11.0 20.7 177.3 731 5,500
Rural (C class and unclassified) 2,887.6 90.8 6.5 2,984.9 12,435 188,920
Urban (C class and unclassified) 2,774.8 378.8 389.6 3,543.2 18,028 127,039

Source Department for Transport: Transport Statistics: Road Lengths in kilometres (Tables RDL0201/2)

Urban roads are those inside an urban area with a population of 10,000 or more according to the 2001 definition of "urban settlements". Rural roads are those outside an urban area.  

Road Classifications

Motorways are major roads of regional and urban strategic importance that are often used for long-distance travel. There are usually three or more lanes in each direction and generally have a maximum speed limit of 70mph.

'A' Roads: These can be trunk or principal roads. They are often described as the 'main' roads and tend to have heavy traffic flows though generally not as high as motorways. roads usually have high traffic flows and are often the main arteries to major destinations.

Trunk roads Most motorways and many of the long distance rural ‘A’ roads are trunk roads. The responsibility for their maintenance lies with the Secretary of State and they are managed by the Highways Agency in England.

Non-trunk roads: These are roads for which local authorities are highway authorities. Non-trunk roads are either classified or unclassified, the former being of two types, principal and non-principal. The classified principal roads are class 'A' roads, except for a small amount of local authority motorway, and are of regional and urban strategic importance. The non-principal roads are those which distribute traffic to urban and regional localities. The non-principal classified roads are sub-divided into ‘B’ and ‘C’ classes. Unclassified roads are those in the least important categories, i.e. local distributor and access roads.

Principal roads: These are major roads which are maintained by local authorities. They are mainly ‘A’ roads, though some local authorities do have responsibility for some motorways.

Minor Roads: These are ‘B’ and ‘C’ classified roads and unclassified roads (all of which are maintained by the local authorities), as referred to above. 'B' roads in urban areas can have relatively high traffic flows, but are not regarded as being as significant as 'A' roads, though in some cases may have similarly high flows. They are useful distributor roads often between towns or villages. 'B' roads in rural areas often have markedly low traffic flows compared with their 'A' road counterparts. 'C' Roads are regarded as of lesser importance than either 'B' or 'A' roads, and generally have only one carriageway of two lanes and carry less traffic. They can have low traffic flows in rural areas. Unclassified roads include residential roads both in urban and rural situations and rural lanes, the latter again normally having very low traffic flows. Most unclassified roads will have only two lanes, and in rural areas may only have one lane with "passing bays" at intervals to allow for two-way traffic flow.

Urban roads: These are major and minor roads within a settlement of population of 10,000 or more. The definition is based on the 2001 Communities and Local Government definition of Urban Settlements.  

Page updated May 2017