Transport chiefs aim to avert trolleybus chaos for motorists

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TRANSPORT bosses have set out plans they hope will stop the new Leeds trolleybus system causing chaos for the city’s motorists.

Some residents in Headingley have voiced concern that work on the system’s northern line will bring their roads grinding to a virtual standstill.

The line will link the city centre with Holt Park via the A660 Headingley Lane, which is already one of Leeds’s most congested routes for traffic.

But Dave Haskins, head of the trolleybus – or New Generation Transport (NGT) – project for West Yorkshire passenger transport authority Metro, says fears of widespread disruption are off the mark.

Mr Haskins yesterday said lessons had been learned from the problems that dogged the construction of Sheffield’s tram system in the 1990s.

He also pointed out that, because Leeds’s trolleybuses will be powered by overhead wires, there will be none of the upheaval that comes with having to put down tracks for a tram scheme.

Key elements of Metro’s blueprint for keeping the A660 on the move once the system is up-and-running include:

l Widening the road between Hyde Park Corner and the top of Headingley Hill so that a segregated lane can be created for outbound trolleybuses;

l Stopping motorists turning left or right at Hyde Park Corner so that inbound trolleybuses and other vehicles get a clear run across the busy junction;

l Taking the trolleybus route on a detour behind Headingley’s Arndale Centre so that it steers clear of the suburb’s traffic-choked heart.

Mr Haskins said: “With a scheme this size there is always going to be some disruption but we are going to do everything possible to keep it to a minimum.

“We will be engaging with as many people as we can over the coming months and will, hopefully, lay their fears to rest.”

Mr Haskins also confirmed some buildings may need to be demolished to make way for the system.

The buildings that could go are understood to include a row of shops at Hyde Park Corner.

Occupying tenants have been made aware that their premises may have to be knocked down.

A decision has still to be taken on exactly which buildings will be demolished.

The sites under threat were compulsorily acquired after ministers approved Leeds’s Supertram scheme in 2001.

Plans for the £250m trolleybus project were drawn up after Supertram was axed in 2005 amid concerns about rising costs.

Work on the northern line and a southern route between the city centre and Stourton is due to begin in 2016. Construction is expected to last about two years.

People with inquiries about the plans can contact Metro via e-mail at ngtinfo@wypte.gov.uk.