Traffic on M62 slowed to 40mph nearly 300,000 times over last 12 months

Traffic travelling on the M62 motorway between junctions 25 and 27 has been reduced to 40mph an incredible 288,396 times over the last 12 months.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 10:00 am
Traffic on the M62 at Hartshead Moor

The statistics were released by the government-owned National Highways – formerly Highways England – as part of a Freedom of Information request.

They span the period from September 30, 2020 to the same date in 2021.

And they have amplified fears that hundreds of HGV movements in and out of a massive distribution centre planned for land off junction 26 of the M62 at Chain Bar near Cleckheaton will clog up local roads.

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Campaigners with the action group Save Our Spen, who object to the scheme, say the figures undermine traffic modelling submitted as part of a planning application by ISG Retail Ltd (Bristol).

The site, which will operate on a 24/7 basis, has been linked to online retailer Amazon.

Local Lib Dems said excess traffic will cause “gridlock”.

A spokesman for SOS said the traffic modelling “concentrates on peak hours and does not assess the true situation”.

He added: “The worrying thing is that National Highways do not appear to have recognised this issue and have accepted large parts of the applicant’s modelling.

“It has already been stated in other reports that both junctions 25 and 26 of the M62 are approaching capacity with other developments planned around both junctions.

“Increased queuing and stationary traffic on the main carriageway increases the risks of serious accidents and cannot be ignored or brushed over.”

The Regional Operation Centre (ROC), which oversees the network along the affected stretch of the M62, said: “We would usually see a 40mph speed limit due to automated congestion/queue management (MIDAS) or as ‘secondaries’ to a lane closure setting.

“A secondary can either be the speed element on the same sign as a lane closure or the one leading into it.

“For any incident reported by a member of the public we would set VMS [variable message signs] saying ‘report of ….’

“This would be accompanied with a speed of 60s, which would then potentially be reduced to 50s/lane closures when the incident is confirmed.”

The contentious 59-acre warehouse site between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the M62 will be entirely given over to a huge building that would be a third of a kilometre long, 178m wide and 23m high.

Space would be allocated for nearly 200 HGVs as well as 900 cars and vans leading to concerns that local routes – including the Chain Bar junction – could become overwhelmed.

In supporting the scheme in June, officers said the site’s closeness to the M62 was a key element in its attractiveness to the developer.

They said “virtually 100 per cent” of HGV traffic would go out of the facility and onto the motorway at Chain Bar, meaning trucks would not “trail through districts on more local roads”.

They added: “From a Kirklees point of view the impact from the HGVs won’t be much.”

Local Lib Dems have previously said new housing and industry are combining to put pressure on the already overloaded junction 26.

Addressing the latest statistics. Coun John Lawson (Cleckheaton) said: “These figures illustrate what everyone in Cleckheaton would be able to tell you about the congestion on this part of the M62 – and it’s getting worse.

“Chain Bar is saturated with traffic at peak times during the day. The cumulative effect of the developments around the junction has the potential to gridlock the whole town.

“This should be considered as a material part of the planning process for the Whitehall Road application and for the development of the [industrial] site at North Bierley.”

A multi-million pound scheme proposed by the former Highways England to alleviate heavy traffic at Chair Bar by creating a direct link from the M62 westbound to the M606 northbound was “paused” following a review in 2017.

There is no mention of it in the current 2020-2025 delivery plan.