Council Leader calls for improved response from Highways Agency

Date: 17/12/2015
Ref: PR 61​40

The Leader of Wakefield Council and the Combined Authority has called for a meeting with the Highways Agency to review the response to yesterday's traffic disruption and to see what lessons can be learnt.

A lorry fire occurred on the M62 shortly after 6.30 am on Wednesday. Parts of the motorway remained closed for most of the day whilst Highways England repaired the road. Unfortunately, the district's road network faced further disruption when a second incident occurred on Doncaster Road shortly after 1pm.

Cllr Peter Box CBE expressed major concern at the severe disruption that was caused as a result of the road closures to West Yorkshire's road network and the local economy.

Cllr Box said: "Unfortunately incidents like these are beyond our control, but we need to make sure that we learn lessons from incidents such as these so we can act quickly and efficiently in any future incidents.
"The impact that closing a major motorway like the M62 is huge and combined with another incident on a major road resulted in gridlock in the city centre and surrounding areas.

"The closures were unavoidable due to the severe nature of the incidents, but we need to make sure that it is an absolute priority of the Highways Agency to reopen roads far quicker.

"This disruption had a massive impact on commuters in West Yorkshire and also on our local businesses that rely on this busy Christmas shopping period. Having our town and city centres gridlocked means that many independent traders would have seen huge losses."

Cllr Box is calling for a meeting with the Highways Agency and other members of the Combined Authority so that we can work together more closely to minimise the disruption in any future incidents. He added: "We will be seeking assurances from the Highways Agency that lessons have being learnt from this incident and that operational responses are put in place as soon as possible."

Work has started on the construction of the Wakefield Eastern Relief Road, which will help ease congestion between the north and east of the city.

The scheme is part of a £1bn programme of 26 projects across West Yorkshire and York designed to ease congestion and support the local economy.

The 5.5km road, secured as a result of the LEP's Growth Deal with Government in 2014 for projects across the Leeds City Region, is being built by Wakefield Council and will provide a link around the city from Aberford Road in the north to Doncaster Road in the south.

Cllr Box added: "The Wakefield Eastern Relief Road will help to reduce congestion in Wakefield by providing an alternative route avoiding the city centre. Work has started and it will be opened to traffic in 2017."