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 

There are 167.9 km of motorways, 717.7 km of 'A' roads and in total 7,075 km of all road types in Lancashire-12 in 2020 with the various classifications of minor roads accounting for 87.5% of total length.

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 was completed during the Spring of that year.  

A major new road currently under construction is the Preston Western Distributor and East-West Link Road. This is a link between the A583 on the western outskirts of Preston and the M55, which links Blackpool to the M6 at Broughton. It is funded from the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

A list of transport schemes in Lancashire is listed here

Road length (km), 2020

 Road type  Lancashire-12  Blackburn with Darwen  Blackpool  Lancashire-14  North West  Great Britain
All roads 7,075.0 556.8 457.8 8,089.6 37,350.8 398,359.4
Motorways 167.9 8.0 0.4 176.3 657.3 3,735.2
 Trunk 154.8 8.0 0.4 163.2 634.0 3,691.2
 Principal  13.1 0.0 0.0 13.1 23.3 44.0
'A' roads  717.7 55.8 41.8 815.3 4,088.5 47,510.6
 Trunk Rural  25.9 0.0 0.0 25.9 266.4 8,156.3
 Trunk Urban  10.4 0.0 0.0 10.4 34.6 587.5
 Principal Rural  455.2 16.8 2.7 474.7 2,150.4 27,976.1
 Principal Urban  226.2 39.0 39.1 304.3 1,637.1 10,790.7
Minor roads 6,189.4 493.0 415.6 7,098.0 32,605.0 347,113.6
 Rural (B) class 312.5 7.1 0.0 319.6 1,260.3 24,524.2
 Urban (B class) 150.2 11.4 21.4 183.0 764.7 5,815.4
 Rural (C class and  unclassified) 2,871.4 90.1 7.1 2,968.6 12,251.3 183,804.7
 Urban (C class and unclassified) 2,855.4 384.4 387.1 3,626.9 18,328.7 132,969.4

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 2021