£103m bypass to ease traffic in Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth 'won't be built anytime soon'
A new bypass designed to ease congestion in three towns "won't be built anytime soon", a senior council officer has warned.
Work on a £103m link road around Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth, will not begin before 2025, even if it's approved, Wakefield's climate change scrutiny committee was told on Monday morning.
The proposals were first put forward by the council at the end of last year, but drew sharp criticism from Extinction Rebellion, who claimed building the road would be "an absolute catastrophe" for the local environment.
A public consultation on whether or not to build the road has been planned but is yet to take place.
Last December the council's Cabinet member for transport, Matthew Morley, said there would be "no point (building the road) if people don't want it", although a report said it could create up to 2,000 jobs in the local area.
Offering an update on Monday, council officer Neville Ford said the idea behind the scheme was to improve life for people in Featherstone, Pontefract and Ackworth and to move cars away from those town centres.
He added: "There's a long way to go before any decision is taken as to how the road might look and how it will be designed.
"We do fully appreciate that this scheme needs to be considered in the context of the challenges around climate change and the need to encourage people to travel more sustainably.
"But these schemes are not designed to be supporting an increase in private car trips.
"This road may offer new opportunities for public transport, particularly from the south-east of the district, which at the moment is very difficult because of the need to travel through various places.
"In terms of the timeline, we'll be looking to have an outline business case towards the end of 2022, and should the scheme be approved and the funding be available it will start some time after 2025.
"So it's not a scheme that will be happening anytime soon."
Committee chair and Wakefield East councillor Olivia Rowley suggested that building the road may simply divert congestion away to another area, rather than eradicating it.
She said: "From a personal point of view, the the argument for detouring traffic away from Doncaster Road meant Agbrigg Road is inundated with traffic.
"Similarly the building of Marsh Way resulted in undue use of North Avenue, but that's in my ward alone.
"We need to look at what the repercussions are for communities when these roads are built."
Local Democracy Reporting Service