Major works to improve the traffic corridor from Todmorden to Halifax were unveiled to councillors – and contain some radical thinking.
Improvements worth around £12 million are planned to deal with congestion and associated problems on two of the major routes into Halifax, the A58/A627 from the M62 at Rishworth and the A646/A6033 from Walsden.
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They include providing more parking at the western – Todmorden – side of Hebden Bridge, removing eight parking spaces on Market Street, Hebden Bridge, stopping vehicles parking on Burnley Road between Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, improving traffic capacity at well-known pinch points such as Luddenden Foot and Tuel Lane top and improvements to the main King Cross junction at Halifax.
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The main traffic lights at Bridge gate, Hebden Bridge, might be taken out while a full scale pedestrian crossing could be placed at the main roundabout in Todmorden town centre.
Calderdale Council’s Corporate Lead for Transportation, Mary Farrar, presented ideas to the council’s Place Scrutiny Committee pointing out these concepts were not all set in stone and councillors commenting on them expressed concern over some of the ideas.
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The overall strategy aims to improve journey time, reliability and resilience especially for public transport users, with a 12 per cent reduction in peak and off-peak variability.
Improving accessibility to employment sites is key, with the goal an eight per cent journey time reduction in peak periods.
Improved highways would enable housing growth along the route by 2032, the council believes, but the proposals would also improve air quality for residents.
Improving the highway could provide a ten per cent reduction in collisions along the corridor by 2022, with a focus on those involving pedestrians or cyclists, with cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians using stretches of the route in large number.
Ms Farrar outlined some of the opportunities and constraints the project offered and faced, including improving capacity at some junctions including Commercial Street in Hebden Bridge, where it meets the main Burnley Road, Luddenden Foot and at Tuel Lane top.
The latest technology will be used to reduce highway maintenance costs and improve the flow of traffic and there will also be an eye on the future with charging points for electric vehicles being introduced.
Place making – reinventing public spaces – will also freshen up the heavily used route in its major towns and villages.
Ms Farrar said the council hoped to create an extra turning lane and one-way option at Burnley Road’s junction with Blackwall Lane at Tuel Lane top and would like to buy the vacant
Coach and Horses pub at Luddenden Foot to make changes which would also streamline traffic flow.
Getting traffic off the highway at Burnley Road heading out of Hebden Bridge towards Mytholmroyd would be helped by creating more parking at the railway station and allowing some parking on Station Road.
Work on traffic signals at the bottom of Keighley Road were possible, as was removing the main lights in the centre of Hebden Bridge, said Ms Farrar.
Calder ward Coun Dave Young (Lab) said he had some concerns about what was proposed, including not allowing parking on Burnley Road out of the town centre.
“A lot of people who work in the town centre really can’t afford to pay for parking, which is why it fills up so quickly,” he said.
“And I am still not entirely convinced about moving eight spaces on Market Street,” he said.
Fellow ward Coun Josh Fenton-Glynn (Lab) welcomed parts of the proposals that would make the road safer and said the proposals were an important chance to improve the highway.
“I went to Calder High School and spent most of my life in traffic jams on the A646,” he said, but added the proposals were “a mixed bag.”
Board chair Coun Seven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said he admired the proposals’ ambition and the council had to have that ambition to make improvements, but including ward councillors in discussions would be key as they knew their communities.
Ms Farrar, who said around nine months of research had gone into both schemes so far, said a consultation process would now start.
Coun Barry Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) said the presentation ought to be thought of as the beginning of an engagement process with people, including individual ward councillors and concerns needed to be addressed.
With some funding already progressing to outline business case with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which is providing some funding, next steps include tendering for an engineering partner to support a full business case.
It is expected work on the A646 would take place between 2020 and 2021 with a final phase being completed after 2021.