Work to widen the A629 at Salterhebble Hill is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2019, despite a number of major challenges.
The Calderdale Council scheme, which includes widening Salterhebble Hill to four lanes, installing new traffic light technology and improving facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, is part of one of the biggest and most complex highways schemes ever undertaken by the authority.
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Funded through West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund the scheme has so far involved removing 5,000 tonnes of material to broaden the road and create the additional lanes, with over 3,000 metres of steel soil nails screwed into the rock to secure the remaining hillside.
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Work on the project has been complicated by the discovery of three uncharted stone arch culverts; thought to have originated from the industrial revolution. Thousands of gallons of water have had to be redirected, while many cellars and areas of unstable ground have also been encountered during the excavation of the hillside.
These issues, along with challenging weather conditions associated with the ‘Beast from the East’, has meant that expected delivery of the project is now early next year – still ahead of the contractual deadline of March 2019.
In the coming months, the focus will be on work around the hospital and completion of Dryclough Lane junction remodelling - introducing links to the traffic signals to improve co-ordination and reduce travel delays.
In addition, contractors will shortly begin creating a ‘vertical garden’ on the hillside retaining wall at Salterhebble, helping to improve the air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide as well as improving the appearance of the corridor.
Work has also been completed by utility companies; Yorkshire Water, British Telecom, Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Networks, who have taken advantage of the roadworks to complete vital repairs. While this has slightly affected progress of the wider scheme, it will reduce the need for future disruption.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development, Coun Barry Collins, said: “The overall A629 scheme is an immensely complicated project - likely to be the most ambitious highways scheme undertaken in Calderdale since the building of the Burdock Way flyover, around half a century ago.
“Contractors are working as quickly as possible to complete the Salterhebble element of the project to a high standard.”
Coun Peter Box, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Investment Committee said: “This huge Transport Fund scheme will speed up journeys and combat the economic and environmental costs of congestion, along this key route between Halifax and Huddersfield.
“Schemes such as this, which will also support economic growth and new jobs, are the reason why we used the Leeds City Region Growth Deal, to set up the £1bn West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund.”
Once complete, the overall A629 project is expected to reduce journey times from Huddersfield to Halifax by up to 30%.
The scheme is funded through the West Yorkshire-plus Transport Fund, and the Leeds City Region Growth Deal - a £1 billion package of Government investment through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
The Council has also recently secured funding to begin preparatory work on the next stage of the A629 project. This early phase will minimise the impact on traffic flows, reduce costs and construction timescales of the main project which is due to start late 2019/early 2020 and involves the long-awaited remodelling of the Calder and Hebble junction.