By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
THE cost of creating a relief road and viaduct for traffic-clogged Cooper Bridge has gone up – before any tarmac has been laid.
Building work on the scheme currently forecast to cost £77.3m – up from £69.2m – is not set to begin until 2022 at the earliest and may not be completed until 2029.
But in the meantime Kirklees Council has requested an increase in the amount of development money needed to progress the scheme: up from £750,000 to £965,000.
The extra £215,000 was agreed at a West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) meeting.
A report to WYCA’s investment committee said the project had encountered “a number of issues” that had impacted on development costs.
These included the termination of the contract with the original supplier appointed to develop the economic case and associated traffic modelling for the scheme.
A new supplier has now been appointed. However the changeover means the project’s outline business case (OBC) will not now be submitted until March 2020 – a delay of 16 months.
In approving the expenditure WYCA also accepted the extension for delivering the OBC.
Commenting on the latest funding Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) said he was “shocked and dismayed” at the speed of the decision.
Coun Bolt attended the investment committee meeting in Leeds but was told he could not speak about the project. He said later: “It went through in two minutes and 13 seconds. It takes five times longer than that to get from the M62 to the Cooper Bridge junction if you’re driving in the afternoon.”
Coun Bolt said clarity was needed on the overall cost of the scheme, which appeared to have increased by £8.1m. “We are told it’s a higher cost – £77.3m – but according to (councillor) Peter McBride it’s a reduced scheme. That’s a direct contradiction.”
He described an engagement process, during which members of the public were invited to consider three options for the project, as “a fiasco” and demanded to know how much it had cost.
Speaking in support of the scheme Coun McBride (Lab, Dalton) said: “This is not an ask for additional money. It’s a variation of what was originally proposed to create a gyratory for Cooper Bridge.
“This scheme proposes to disperse the traffic through a series of roads that would have the same effect. It should be really a joint (Kirklees/Calderdale initiative) because actually half the scheme is in Calderdale.”
The project, formally known as the A62/A644 (Wakefield Road) Link Road scheme, was unveiled last December. It aims to reduce traffic levels around the three-arm Cooper Bridge roundabout as well as on the A62 Leeds Road and the A644 Wakefield Road.