WORK has begun on the first “game-changing” transport project funded by a £1bn transport pot for West Yorkshire and York.
Funding for the £33m Wakefield Eastern Relief Fund comes from the Leeds City Region’s Growth Deal, which will see Government investment used to support growing businesses, develop skilled workers, and create the housing and transport infrastructure need for growth.
The 5.5km road, built by Wakefield Council, will help ease congestion in Wakefield city centre by providing a direct route from Aberford Road in the north to Doncaster Road in the south, while also giving direct access to the M62.
It will also provide a gateway to a new 2,500-home community, City Fields, which will include parks, leisure facilities, retails areas and businesses premises. Construction on the road began yesterday and it is expected to be open to traffic in Spring 2017
Wakefield Council leader Peter Box, who is also chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which is charged with delivering the Growth Deal alongside the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said delivering the transport scheme was proof that devolving powers to the north could work.
“It shows that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority is ambitious, can work very well with the local authorities and can play a big part in regeneration,” he said. “We’re talking about building a new 5.5km road - but it’s far more than that, because it will create 2.500 new houses and 3,200 new jobs.
“Now we need to work with the colleges to make sure our young people can take advantage of these jobs being created.”
Each project funded by the Growth Deal will be designed to support economic growth and job creation, encourage house-building and fund transport schemes. In total, the combined authority and LEP hope to create 62,000 new jobs using the Growth Deal cash.
LEP chair Roger Marsh said: “This is the first game-changing transport project to start on site as a result of our historic Local Growth Deal secured last year. This important project will support us to unlock the untapped economic growth in our region and enhance the local area by better connecting people to jobs and goods to market. This is another great example of the public and private sectors working together to bring economic prosperity to our great cities, towns and villages and improve the region for generations to come.”
The development of the new relief road will include footpaths linking it to the Trans-Pennine Trails, running alongside new woodland and wetlands designed to attract wildlife. It will also improve conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers in the city centre.
Wakefield Council’s cabinet member for transport and highways, Coun Dave Dagger, said it would have a “real impact” on reducing the number of journeys made through the city centre.
The £1bn-plus Leeds City Region Growth Deal was dubbed by Prime Minister David Cameron as “historic” when it was announced in July last year.
It provides £573m from a Government fund designed to help towns and cities outside the South East thrive, along £420m towards a transport improvements fund for West Yorkshire and York, and local contributions. It includes supporting 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses, investing £79m in improving college facilities and creasing 20,000 new jobs through investment in transport schemes that will support economic growth. The Leeds City Region covers ten local authorities including Barnsley, Harrogate, Bradford and York.