Deadline warning on £7m plan to ease Leeds Bradford Airport congestion

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PLANS for a £7m roads project at one of West Yorkshire’s most heavily congested junctions are facing “extremely challenging” timescales, a council has admitted.

Councillors are being warned that there is a lot of preparation work to be done on the A658 Harrogate Road/A657 New Line junction scheme at Greengates, Bradford, which is a key route into Leeds and to the airport.

The scheme needs 19 separate parcels of land outside the existing road and early negotiations with landowners are needed to avoid the potential for compulsory purchase orders, Bradford councillors are being told.

The plan is to complete the project in 2017 but the council’s regeneration director Mike Cowlam said: “Timescales for the project are extremely challenging with the aspiration to complete the project by December 2017.”

The council’s executive will be asked on Tuesday to give permission to officers to get on with preparation work.

Funding has already been agreed in principle, with up to £4.9m coming from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Fund.

Just under £2m has been secured from Miller Homes via a section 106 agreement for a residential development. Just over £1.7m of the money has been allocated to fund land acquisition.

And because of the tight timescales, some of the money to buy land may have to be funded by Bradford Council for later reimbursement by the Transport Fund.

The report says that the project will improve traffic flow and make the junction safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Harrogate Road is a key commuter route between Bradford, Rawdon and Harrogate as well as a key route between Leeds, Bradford and the airport.

Typical weekday traffic flows exceed 20,000 vehicles at the Greengates bottleneck.

The lack of capacity at the junction results in considerable congestion at peak times, with queues on all four legs, sometimes longer than one kilometre.

There are also delays on Saturdays as drivers try to get to Sainsbury’s, Farm Foods and the associated retail park.

Despite the number of retail units and a primary school, there are no dedicated pedestrian facilities and there have been a number of accidents in recent years.

Between 2007 and 2012 there have been 23 accidents at the junction, resulting in two serious and 33 slight injuries.

Councillors are being recommended to approve the delegation of authority to officers to start preparation work on the proposals.

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