Words: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
Leeds City Council has hit back at accusations it does not effectively plan for roadworks, claiming that many of its maintenance projects took place during less busy times of year.
It follows claims made by the leader of the council’s opposition Conservatives group, who claimed he had “lost confidence” in the council’s ability to coordinate roadworks in a non-disruptive way, and was particularly unhappy with ongoing delays at the Dawson’s Corner junction in Pudsey.
But the council says much of the works were done during Covid lockdowns and in summer holidays to avoid disruption.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“An incredible amount of detailed planning goes into coordinating all the infrastructure, improvements and utilities work across Leeds’ roads network to minimise disruption. While work progresses to secure the funding for the Dawson’s Corner junction improvements, other essential works needed to be completed in the meantime.
“Wherever possible, work is undertaken off peak, overnight, at weekends or during school summer holidays. Some very significant schemes have been completed in the last 18 months when traffic flows were much reduced.
“Corridor bus improvement schemes, such as the A647 Stanningley Road, will benefit all users in the longer term but construction timing is dependent on a number of complex deadlines and funding limitations from government. Every year over 26,000 permits for maintenance works and approximately 900 road closures are coordinated by our experienced and dedicated team to reduce impact on Leeds residents and road users.”
The £20m Dawson’s Corner scheme will reputedly provide a “fully remodelled and enlarged signalised junction”, as well as improved cycling and walking facilities. It is expected to be completed in 2023.
It is hoped that the improvements will eventually reduce peak hour bus delays at the junction, reduce air pollution caused by standing traffic, and to increase capacity at New Pudsey station park and ride site.
Coun Andrew Carter (Calverley & Farsley) said yesterday that the council should do more to plan better for projects in the west of Leeds, adding:
“We seem to lurch from one scheme to another, interminably causing traffic delays on what is already a congested junction which at peak times is over capacity.
“There is going to be a major junction improvement scheme there over the next 18 months. A lot of these things should be rolled up into one and get the congestion over and done with, and not to lurch from one to another.
“Whatever the highways department say, there will be wasted resources and some work will be disrupted because of additional work. I have lost confidence in the council’s ability to properly coordinate.”
The authority added that works taking place nearby to Dawson’s Corner by gas companies are works identified to replace the gas mains and allocated to take place in the summer holiday period to minimise disruption.
Information from the council added: “Many of the restrictions imposed are to ensure the safety of all highway users and those carrying out the works e.g. it is not possible to carry out grass cutting operations on high speed classified roads without lane closures.
“Wherever possible, work is undertaken off-peak, overnight, at weekends or during school summer holidays. Traffic flows across Leeds are increasing following the easing of COVID restrictions and if possible, people should consider walking, cycling and public transport options.”
Having seen the planned changes to Dawson’s Corner its ashame that the entry into Owlcotes Centre has not been improved which you have to encounter the roundabout from every direction. Also entry and leaving Pudsey Station just one way in and out. Why not make a slip road onto the bypass on the way out and avoid the traffic lights and roundabout ?