The most expensive road scheme in Kirklees is to be slashed in half after costs spiralled to £94 million.
With funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Kirklees Council had planned a big scheme to ease congestion on the A62 Leeds Road from Bradley to Cooper Bridge roundabout.
The plans, which proved controversial back in 2021, involved changes to Bradley traffic lights, remodelling the main road – removing roadside parking outside terraced homes near Marstons Chicken Shop – and making the narrow residential street Oak Road into a one-way ‘key access route.’
In 2021 the cost of the A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme was estimated at £75 million.
In March 2022, as a result of soaring inflation and instability in the construction sector, the Combined Authority ‘paused’ the scheme.
The authority also paused other Huddersfield road schemes including Phase 5 of the A629 Halifax Road between Ainley Top and Huddersfield town centre, and also the A629 Wakefield Road Sustainable Transport Corridor between Shorehead roundabout and Waterloo.
The estimated cost of the A62 to Cooper Bridge scheme has hit £94 million and Kirklees Council says that’s unaffordable.
Instead the council is looking at phasing the scheme and will make improving the bottleneck Cooper Bridge roundabout its priority. The roundabout scheme would be Phase 1 with a budget of £53 million.
A report to the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday January 23 says that £75 million had been allocated for the A62 Cooper Bridge scheme but phasing it would mean that £22 million could be used to re-start other schemes.
This would include Phase 5 of the A629 Halifax Road improvements – without the unpopular Blacker Road junction widening scheme which would have meant the felling of mature trees. The Blacker Road section was removed by new council leader Clr Cathy Scott when she took up office last year.
Re-allocating money would also allow the Holmfirth Town Centre Action Plan scheme to go ahead. That scheme – to improve traffic flow through the town – has seen the cost rise from £5.4 million to £14.6 million.
The report says that Phase 1 of the Cooper Bridge scheme would focus on remodelling the roundabout and later phases could look at widening the railway bridge and improvements to the Bradley traffic lights junction.
For the roundabout scheme to go ahead there would have to be a new Outline Business Case compiled which would have to prove that bus journeys would be speeded up through Cooper Bridge.
The council has produced two new designs after feedback from bedding firm John Cotton Group, which has a factory close by in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield.
The report says that railway bridge widening and improvements at Bradley would only go ahead “if traffic modelling demonstrated the need still existed and other sources of funding were available.”
The table below shows which other road schemes would benefit from funding re-allocated from Cooper Bridge.
Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for regeneration and finance at Kirklees Council, said: “Over recent years, it’s no secret that a lot of our major projects have come under financial strain. We’ve seen a huge inflation on costs of materials, and we’re still seeing struggles in the construction sector following Covid.
“By their very nature, these kind of projects take years to design and deliver – not least because we try to time our various transport projects to create the least possible disruption for Kirklees residents. So over the last few years, these rising costs have had a huge impact on our plans across the board.
“Despite all the challenges we face, we remain ambitious for Kirklees, and we’ll continue to invest in our travel infrastructure – and working with all the relevant partners who can help us deliver great improvements at good value.
“We firmly believe this new strategy is the best way to deliver all our most crucial transport projects within budget, and continue delivering improvements for the people of Kirklees.”