New agreement could help improve congestion on busy roads in Wakefield district

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A new partnership could see congestion cut on seven major roads around the Wakefield district.

Wakefield Council has signed up to an agreement that will see it work with the county's four other local councils and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to improve journey times on the busy A roads, which are among the most important, but most congested, in the region.

The roads are:
• A639 Castleford to A1 Barnsdale Bar (boundary with North Yorkshire)
• A638 Pontefract to Ossett (boundary with Kirklees)
• A655 Wakefield to Castleford (boundary to Leeds)
• A61 (boundary with Barnsley through the district to the boundary with Leeds)
• A636 Wakefield to the M1 motorway junction
• A642 Wakefield to Middlestown (boundary with Kirklees)
• A650 Wakefield to boundary with Leeds/M1 junction

The council has put its name to the West Yorkshire Key Route Network Memorandum of Understanding alongside Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds local authorities.

They will work together to target 410 miles of road in the county. The roads carry 60 per cent of all vehicles. But despite their significance, it is estimated that congestion along them is costing the local economy £600m a year, and average speeds are just 22mph.

Coun Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council's cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “We welcome the Memorandum of Understanding as it’s a great example of collaborative working. It’s important that we work together with our partners for the benefit of the district and in support of the wider West Yorkshire area.”

A Key Network Group, made up of representatives from each authority, will look at investment priorities across the area.

Smart technology could be introduced to manage traffic, providing people with up-to-date information and helping to reduce congestion in the worst hotspot areas.

The road improvements are expected to boost economic growth and support the county's low emissions strategy.

Coun Keith Wakefield, chair of the WYCA Transport Committee, said: “By signing up to this Understanding, West Yorkshire’s local authorities are committing to work together to manage the county’s key roads with even greater efficiency and irrespective of district boundaries.”