Leeds city centre work completed for The Headrow, Cookridge Street, Park Row and Infirmary Street redesigns
Work intended to transform four key areas of Leeds city centre will be completed this week after two years of construction.
The Headrow, Cookridge Street, Park Row and Infirmary Street have all been given makeovers as part of the Connecting Leeds programme, with only some minor work continuing on Park Row for the next two nights.
The multi-million-pound programme aims to improve the city centre as a place to work, live, shop and entertain, with Leeds City Council saying it will now act as a world-class gateway for bus users, pedestrians and cycle users.
Coun Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: "We all want the city centre to be an inviting place for people to visit and the work we are doing to prioritise public and active travel creates a nicer environment for everyone. These new green spaces we have made, and continue to make, give people a new and welcoming place to relax and take in the buzz of the city.
"The council has set an ambitious target to become carbon neutral by 2030 and it’s schemes such as these which reduce car dominance and promote active travel options that will help us to achieve our goals.”
The Headrow is one of the most important roads in the city centre, with over 100 buses passing through every hour. Consultations carried out in early 2018 highlighted issues along the route affecting transport and the environment.
The road now offers priority access for buses and cyclists; safer, more convenient crossings for pedestrians; dedicated bus gates to remove through traffic in the city; wider pavements, and more greenery and street furniture.
Delivered by contractors John Sisk & Son, the scheme also offers people easier connections between bus and rail services and fewer vehicle dominated areas.
As part of the Headrow work, Vicar Lane has been opened in both directions for buses between The Headrow and North Street in a bid to remove the bottleneck at The Headrow and New Briggate junction. This has created the opportunity to close the lower section of New Briggate and work is continuing there to further enhance the pedestrian experience.
On Cookridge Street, the area has been completely closed to traffic and an urban realm area has been created which is suitable for events. It has outdoor seating and its own segregated cycle lane which connects the north of the city with the rail station. The removal of traffic from Cookridge Street has provided an opportunity to change the traffic signal timing providing more green time for public transport travelling in and out of the city centre.
Elsewhere, Park Row has been successfully converted into a one-way street for most of its length so it is easier for buses to use. The pavements have been significantly widened, offering pedestrians more space and giving businesses the opportunity to offer outdoor seating.
Infirmary Street has been converted into a two-way operation and bus-only restrictions are expected to improve journey times and air quality. Cameras and enforcement will start to activate over the coming months, so those driving into the city centre are being advised to plan their journeys.
Acknowledging the disruption caused during the works, Coun Hayden said: “I am delighted that these much-anticipated schemes have been completed and would like to thank people for their patience over the past two years, in particular the businesses and residents based in the work areas.
"Like any city centre project, this work was always going to be challenging and with the added pressures of the COVID pandemic and reduced workforces our contractors and partners have had to work extra hard to complete the schemes efficiently. We have fortunately been able to take advantage of the quieter roads and pavements during lockdowns and worked alongside our stakeholders to rejig the programmes and ensure key areas were mostly completed to coincide with reopening."
Each of the completed projects complements wider efforts to transform the city's bus network and reduce public transport journey times, which it is hoped will encourage more people to leave their cars at home.
Coun Kim Groves, West Yorkshire Combined Authority's lead member for public transport, added: "The completion of these schemes coupled with the recent launch of the new Leeds Core Bus Network marks an exciting time for Leeds city centre.
"These improvements are an important milestone in our commitment to establishing a well-connected transport system that makes travel around West Yorkshire easy and reliable.”
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