Motorists will face more traffic headaches and roadworks after Highways England set out how more than £1.3 billion of government investmentwill be spent on roads across Yorkshire and the Humber.
Highways England, the government-owned company which was set up earlier this year, detailed its plans for the region, including major improvements on the M62 between Junction 20 and Junction 25 at Brighouse.
The investment will see major improvements and repairs including a smart motorway, adding an extra lane and using variable speed limits to keep traffic moving and will take place between now and 2020.
The improvements come just two years after a managed motorway system was introduced between the M62 junction at Brighouse and Junction 30 which took two years to complete.
Highways England Yorkshire and North East Divisional Director, Vanessa Gilbert, said there will be no gain without some extended pain for motorists, who face several years of disruptions during the overhaul.
“Motorways and trunk roads form the backbone of the region’s economy and this huge investment will ensure they remain healthy for many years to come.
“Ultimately we are aiming to deliver a network that is less congested, more free flowing and more reliable for people.
“Obviously we have got to go through a bit of pain to get there, because we have got to make investment in the network to bring about those improvements. But our key focus is going to be on trying to minimise that disruptive impact on motorists.”
The improvements do not include the proposed Junction 24a at Rastrick with work still being carried out on the project.
A £1.4bn programme of transport improvements for the region was agreed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in December 2014.
The authority said more than 30 projects are scheduled for completion by 2021, with a further six scheduled for delivery by 2025.
These include creating a new junction 24a on the M62 off the A641 Bradford Road, south of Brighouse.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “In regards to creating a new junction between junction 24 and 25 to improve connectivity in this area, we are working closely with both Kirklees and Calderdale Councils on feasibility studies which are still ongoing.”
It is not known whether work on the junction will start as they begin work on the 19-mile stretch between junction 20 and 25, or after it has been completed.
The Highways England projects is part of the government’s ‘Road Investment Strategy’, a £15 billion plan which was announced last year to triple levels of spending on England’s roads by the end of the decade, increasing their capacity and condition.
Jeremy Bloom, Highways England’s Director of Major Projects in the North, added: “Improving connectivity, improving accessibility and reducing congestion is key to the future prosperity of the whole of the North. We’ll be playing a very significant part in that Northern Powerhouse, and Leeds and Yorkshire are absolutely central to that.”
He added that “innovative ways of implementing the schemes” would include more of the construction work done off site.
“We are doing everything we can to minimise disruption, because we can’t have the whole network gridlocked,” he said.
“Our job is to try and keep the traffic moving as much as possible while building these schemes and we are trying to be more intelligent in how we plan work.
“We have five years committed funding, which helps us to be more efficient.
“It is important to say though that if we don’t do this work, congestion will get so bad that we will become gridlocked, so there isn’t really an alternative.”