A key junction with access to the John Smith’s Stadium is to be closed as part of major improvement works on the A62 Leeds Road in Huddersfield.
Only a few weeks ago Kirklees Council said there would only be “partial closures” of Leeds Road as part of the A62 SMART Corridor Scheme.
Work is due to start on Monday April 4 and the council has now revealed large-scale changes after consultation with residents and local businesses.
It was originally said that the scheme would take up to 12 months to complete but now the council says there will be full closures in place which should mean the work is finished in early December.
However, a key junction will be closed for around two months. The A62 will be shut at the traffic light junction with Thistle Street and Hillhouse Lane between The Yorkshire Rose pub and the Sandal Mini dealership.
Thistle Street is used as an access to and from the John Smith’s Stadium, though the council says no disruption will be caused during the football season or during any play-off game, should Town finish in the top six.
American rock band Green Day bring their re-arranged Hella Mega Tour to the stadium on Saturday June 25 and Huddersfield Giants’ season runs throughout the summer.
The stadium is also due to host a prestigious quarter-final for the Rugby League World Cup on November 4.
The A62 Leeds Road SMART Corridor scheme is part of a long-running project by Kirklees Council to tackle the route’s issues with congestion, slow journey times and poor air quality, as well as safety.
It involves a 2km stretch from Old Fieldhouse Lane to Huddersfield Ring Road and will also see a new entrance created to the car park at the Great Northern Retail Park which should ease the bottleneck exit which sees long queues at peak shopping times.
The project is part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA)’s Corridor Improvement Programme, funded by WYCA and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
In the original timetable, works around the Thistle Street/Hillhouse Lane junction were set to last up to six months, with closures only at off-peak times between 9.30am and 3.30pm.
However, Kirklees Council is now aiming to complete this stage of work much faster, with a solid period of closure over seven to eight weeks.
This update takes into account other road closures in the area, due to upcoming work on the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) – improvements to local railway infrastructure which aim to drastically improve connectivity in the north of England.
Work on the TRU will at times mean closures of other key routes into Huddersfield. Kirklees Council are therefore working closely with Network Rail to minimise disruption on local roads at any one time, and make sure there are fully open routes available throughout the year.
The council says both schemes will bring huge benefits to travel in and out of Kirklees, so supporting Network Rail’s improvements is also a priority for the council.
Aside from the much shorter period of disruption around Thistle Street and Hillhouse Lane, the overall works will now end two months sooner, avoiding closures and re-routing of traffic around the Great Northern Retail Park during the Christmas rush. It has therefore been agreed with local businesses that this new schedule provides better support and much less disruption overall.
There are also safety and quality benefits to the full road closure and more intensive working period – and the new timetable is also more cost-effective, enabling a saving of around £200,000.
A council spokesman said: “The junction will be closed outside of the football season, after the play-offs, so will not impact access to football games at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“For any major events taking place during the closure, delays and diversions can be expected and visitors to the stadium should allow extra time for travel.
“Kirklees Council are also working with the John Smith’s Stadium around the closure, and the stadium will be advising any event ticket holders on suggested alternative routes.
“Access will also be maintained for businesses throughout, with prominent advertising that they are open as usual.”
David Shepherd, director for growth and regeneration at Kirklees Council, said: “This update to the scheduled works is a great thing for the A62 Leeds Road SMART Corridor scheme.
“Opting to close the junction at Thistle Street and Hillhouse Lane, and re-routing traffic but for a shorter period of time, will massively accelerate the work overall.
“We’re listening to local businesses, commuters and people who live in the area, and taking into account the bigger picture.
“This scheme will create a better gateway to Kirklees, with less congestion and great sustainable transport links.
“We aim to reach that goal with minimum disruption to residents, visitors, commuters and business owners – and whilst also supporting other fantastic projects to improve Kirklees’ connectivity.”