Delays up ahead for Leeds motorists as Bridgewater Place work starts

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Drivers are facing months of disruption as work finally gets under way on a safety scheme to combat the dangerous wind tunnel effect at Leeds city centre’s Bridgewater Place skyscraper.

A section of busy commuter route Water Lane – which runs alongside the 32-storey building – will be closed in both directions from Thursday.

A computer-generated image of how the new screens and canopies will look from Water Lane.

A computer-generated image of how the new screens and canopies will look from Water Lane.

The closure – which will allow what is being described as “piling activity” to be carried out – is scheduled to last until May 9.

Water Lane is a key link between Leeds’s thriving Holbeck business area and the approach to the city centre from the local motorway network.

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Leeds City Council today said two diversionary routes had been proposed to operate during the closure, one for vehicles under 7.5 tonnes and the other for vehicles above that weight.

Victoria Road and Neville Street will remain open throughout the work, except for any times when – as has become standard practice – their junction with Water Lane is closed in bad weather.

Powerful winds can be whipped up in the area around Bridgewater Place during stormy conditions.

Pedestrian Edward Slaney, from Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, was crushed to death by a truck that was blown off its wheels close to the building in 2011.

The new safety scheme will see the construction of a system of massive wind-deflecting canopies and screens at the site.

Announcing the award of the contract for the long-awaited project last month, building owner CPPI Bridgewater Place Limited Partnership’s Nick Sinfield said: “For us, it is important that such a vital scheme is delivered with minimal disruption for local people and businesses and we will continue to keep stakeholders updated as our works progress.”

It is anticipated that the construction process as a whole will take up to 16 months.

Work was carried out last year on underground cabling in preparation for the start of CPPI’s main scheme.

The council has also installed a reinforced glass shield on the pavement at Great Wilson Street as an interim safety measure.

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