Kirklees Council’s Cabinet has agreed on a new strategy after the costs of major transport schemes have skyrocketed by millions of pounds.
The strategy is centred on setting a new timeline for delivering improvements as part of the A62 Leeds Road to Cooper Bridge scheme. The large-scale project designed to minimise congestion, improve air quality and decrease journey times was allocated £75.1m for its delivery, but now, inflation and economic pressures have seen costs soar to £94m.
The Cooper Bridge scheme isn’t the only large-scale transport project facing a significant funding gap. This is illustrated in the table below.
To address the shortfalls, the Cabinet has agreed that the A62 to Cooper Bridge scheme will be delivered using a phased approach, meaning that some parts of the project will be pushed back to a later date. The first phase will focus on the Cooper Bridge roundabout for the cost of £53m.
Subsequent phases will cover improvements to Bradley Junction and the widening of the railway bridge.
Leftover funds from the initial phase of the Cooper Bridge scheme will be redistributed to support the delivery of other transport improvements. This is subject to the agreement of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority which manages many of the funding sources behind the projects.
Presenting the report to the meeting, Cabinet Member for Housing and Highways, Cllr Moses Crook, said: “In light of the very significant inflationary and other cost increases over recent years, it’s no longer possible to deliver this programme as previously envisaged.
“This report sets out a new funding strategy and funding reprofiling request in order to deliver the maximum possible of our major transport schemes within the available funding envelope. It also seeks delegated authority to progress the reprofiled schemes as described.
“This is a really positive proposal which maximises delivery of our programme of work, maximises benefit for our Kirklees residents and I’m very pleased to propose we adopt the officer recommendation.”
Outside of the meeting, Cllr Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Finance & Regeneration, said: “Over recent years, it’s no secret that a lot of our major projects have come under financial strain. We’ve seen a huge inflation in costs and materials, and we’re still seeing struggles in the construction industry following Covid.
“By their very nature, these kind of projects take years to design and deliver – not least because we try to time our various transport projects to create the least possible disruption for Kirklees residents. So over the last few years, these rising costs have had a huge impact on our plans across the board.
“Despite all the challenges we face, we remain ambitious for Kirklees, and we’ll continue to invest in our travel infrastructure – and in working with all the relevant partners who can help us deliver great improvements at good value. We firmly believe this new strategy is the best way to deliver all our most crucial transport projects within budget and continue delivering improvements for the people of Kirklees.”