A smoother route will benefit traffic and ultimately Calderdale’s economy believe councillors who approved a raft of measures to drive a major Halifax road improvement scheme forward.
Switching the next phase of the A629 development to the east side of the highway from the originally planned west will carry cost implications – £300,000 for extra land purchases and an additional cost to demolish the derelict Punch Bowl pub – but officers believe the new options would be “relatively cost neutral” overall.
The cash can be claimed back from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority with worst case scenario of the council carrying risk for three months until the next claim cycle.
The scheme, one of the biggest in the West Yorkshire Transport Fund’s £1 billion budget, began with improvements to the Shaw Hill/Free School Lane junction near the town centre and is proceeding well with the huge project to create a dual carriageway up and down Salterhebble Hill on the busy route to the M62 motorway, said Calderdale Council Cabinet’s member for regeneration and economic strategy Coun Barry Collins (Labour, Illingworth and Mixenden).
The next stretch takes in the junction with Jubilee Road and will deal with congestion at the Calder and Hebble junction.
Richard Binks, technical lead for West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund, told members the scheme would overcome the extensive queuing problems which have dogged traffic on that stretch of road which links Halifax to the motorway.
The project was being refined by the day and he explained why the eastern side was now the preferred option.
Mr Binks said smoother highway alignment with a northbound dual carriageway and removing parking provision at Jubilee Road to ensure the signalled junction operated most efficiently were big improvements.
“It’s always been a conundrum what to do there and we are now biting the bullet in that sense. There will be no single lane at all and that’s the way to go,” he said.
Officers had met with stakeholders and residents to discuss the scheme in detail and although compulsory purchase powers were sought it was not likely they would be needed, he said.
New parking will be created for residents at Exley Bank and Jubilee Road whose spaces would be lost.
A major advantage, including cost savings, was reducing work needed to widen the bridge and highway at Hebble Brook.
Councillor Bob Metcalf (Labour, Town) said he was satisfied all issues had been considered and Coun Jane Scullion (Labour, Luddenden Foot) said concerns she had regarding Exley Bank and a cyclepath – which will now be provided between Jubilee junction and the existing path at Elland Wood Bottom – had been dealt with by officers.
Cabinet members approved the additional land acquisition and highway alignment plans, use of compulsory purchase orders if required, side road orders – which allow roads to be closed when work is required to be carried out – and a bridge order affecting the Calder and Hebble Navigation.