£75m 'congestion buster' scheme aims to cut journey times

Highways chiefs say a £75m “congestion buster” at Cooper Bridge near Mirfield could cut journey times by anything from 51 seconds to more than three minutes per vehicle.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 7:00 am
An aerial view of the A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme. Photo: Google
An aerial view of the A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme. Photo: Google

The new plan, which replaces a formerly proposed bypass and flyover scheme, includes a new roundabout at Cooper Bridge, the widening of part of Leeds Road as well as several bridges, and a focus on a stretch of the A62 between Bradley junction and Oak Road.

Traffic engineers with Kirklees Council say the built-up nature of the area prevents them from physically transforming the Leeds Road/Bradley Road/Colne Bridge Road junction.

Thus they have opted to ban vehicles from turning right into Bradley Road, reasoning that that will push higher volumes of traffic through the junction towards Huddersfield.

Vehicles wanting to go to Bradley will be funnelled along Oak Road, which will be made one-way to partially offset the impact.

Designers will also widen Leeds Road to create a new lane as it approaches Oak Road.

They say traffic will increase by “circa 110 vehicles in the peak hour, which equates to less than two vehicles per minute”.

And after modelling different time periods – traffic peaks in mornings and evenings – they have forecast ahead to the opening of the project in 2026 and then a further 15 years to 2041.

Speaking on a webinar Sarah Kearns, the project manager for what is now known as the A62 to Cooper Bridge Corridor Improvement Scheme, said officers had considered what might happen on the road during that period “with and without the scheme in place”.

She said: “It doesn’t compare it to what’s happening today. It’s about forecasting what we think will be happening in those years.

“Across those range of periods and years the time savings vary from about 51 seconds through to three minutes and 11 seconds.

“They are savings per vehicle travelling through this section of the A62 corridor.

“Specifically in 2026 we see the journey time savings ranging from one minute and seven seconds through to two minutes and 28 seconds per vehicle travelling through.

“We do appraise the whole scheme over a 60-year period but that gives you a feel of the journey time savings that we’re expecting to see.”

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield), who has consistently challenged the Labour-run council over the Cooper Bridge scheme, asked whether the journey time savings were “worth £70 million and years of disruption and traffic congestion”.

He said officers had “bounced about with journey times” and that a three-minute saving was the average at the project’s projected opening in 2026.

He added: “That’s still big expenditure for little return and years of slower journeys and lost production.

“Is there a cost benefit analysis at present?”

The full cost of the current scheme is estimated to be £75m.

The majority will be paid for via the West Yorkshire Transport Fund – run by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) – which will provide £69.3m.

That means the remaining £5.7m could come from Kirklees Council unless it negotiates a higher funding pot from WYCA.

Ms Kearns and Keith Bloomfield, the programme manager for the West Yorkshire Transport Fund, said designs had been “significantly changed” to avoid cutting down ancient woodland along the A644 Wakefield Road linking Cooper Bridge with the M62.

There will, however, be “some tree loss”, though the exact amount has not been outlined at this early stage of the plan.

The council has pledged to replace any trees that are felled.

Parking outside homes on Leeds Road will remain.

Residents will have to travel to Brooklands, make a U-turn and drive back towards their homes to park in the direction that traffic is travelling in.

Engineers also hope to tackle ongoing flooding under the railway bridge near Cooper Bridge roundabout, which they say is not actually caused by road drainage.

They said they are working with colleagues at Calderdale Council “to identify a solution” and that design work “is ongoing as we speak.

“We are expecting that to be rectified ahead of the scheme.”