Motorists in Leeds are promised an easier commute this week after ongoing gas mains work at a major junction caused temporary chaos.
Essential repair work at Armley Gyratory led to massive queues on Friday and at the weekend, with fears there would be more misery for motorists as the work continues into the end of this week.
However after a major surge of work at the weekend, both lanes of the A643 dual carriageway are now open, easing the delays considerably.
Richard Hynes Cooper, Customer Operations Area Manager for Northern Gas Networks, said: “Our engineers have worked throughout the weekend to locate and repair a gas escape on the A643 near to the Armley Gyratory.
“Although the work will continue into the week, we have opened both lanes of the A643 dual carriageway. We are hopeful that this will reduce traffic disruption to a minimum for the rest of the time that we will be working at this location.
“We would once again, like to apologise to members of the public for any inconvenience caused whilst this essential maintenance work is carried out. We are doing everything we can to complete the work as soon as possible.”
Work on the Gyratory itself has now moved from one lane onto another.
Mr Hynes Cooper added: “We’re making good progress repairing the gas main in the Armley Gyratory area. We are currently working on the inside lane of the roundabout leaving two lanes open to traffic. The nature of the work means that we will have to move our operation from the inside lane to the outside lane of the roundabout from 6am on Tuesday, December 3. This will still leave two lanes free for traffic to negotiate.
“Once again, I’d like to thank the public for their cooperation and understanding and I’d also like to let everyone know that the A643 dual carriageway remains fully operational.”
Highways bosses had previously warned drivers to plan ahead over the coming few days - but the timing of the work was criticised.
Armley Labour councillor Alison Lowe had said she was “staggered” by the timing and it “could have been planned a whole lot better”.
“It’s ‘essential’ gas work but I have been smelling gas there for years,” she said. “I don’t know why they had to do it four weeks before Christmas.”
A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “When a gas operator advises us of a gas leak requiring repair that is urgent, we have no alternative but to make arrangements for that work to be done. We are continuing to work with the utility company to try and minimise the impact of the work on the travelling public.”
She said the partial re-openings of lanes “should ease things”, but added “some disruption to travel is extremely likely” and drivers should make alternative arrangements if they can.