HIGHWAYS officers have explained why work to a busy junction will take up to 15 months.

An £11 million project to relieve congestion at the Harrogate Road/New Line junction in Greengates is due to start in February and last between 12 and 15 months.

The proposals were discussed by Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee at a meeting last week, where members questioned the rising costs of the scheme and the lengthy construction period.

They were told the decision was between closing the entire junction and completing work in a few months, or having lane closures and spending longer on the project.

When it was first announced the works were budgeted at £8.7 million. But the committee was told that the costs had now spiralled to £11.4 million.

The committee was told that land ownership and utilities had been identified as the main “risks” associated with the project.

Application for new link-road and junction improvements at Great Horton Road is submitted

Richard Gelder, highways service manager, said: “Utility costs, including moving pipes and cables around the road, have increased significantly. There are also the costs of compulsory purchase orders.”

The Council has had to issue a number of compulsory purchase orders for properties around the junction in order for the works to go ahead. Those orders have now been approved.

Changes to the junction will include the widening of both Harrogate Road and New Line on all four sections of the cross roads.

There will be a new entrance to Farmfoods and the relocation of five bus stops.

In addition, new cycling lanes and pedestrian islands with signal controlled crossings are proposed.

The road had long been considered one of the most congested in the district.

And earlier this year new data showed that Leeds Road/Saltaire Road, which runs from the Harrogate Road junction to Saltaire, is in the top five most congested stretches of roads in the UK, and most congested outside of London.

Councillor David Heseltine (Cons, Bingley Rural) said: “I understand that this will relieve traffic but also help enable more housing developments to happen. Obviously that will bring more traffic to the area, what it the time period before we’re back to the status quo at this junction?”

He was told that it would be at least 10 years before congestion at this junction returned to its current levels.

Cllr Heseltine added: “There is a considerable construction period for this, and this is one of the major roads in and out of the district. What are we going to do to mitigate the problems for people and businesses in this area?”

Mr Gelder replied: “With this development we could close all four lanes of the road and get it finished in three or four months.

“We had to think of how this would impact local businesses. We’re aiming to keep as many lanes open as we can, but then that is detrimental to the building period.”

Councillor Vick Jenkins (Lab, Shipley) said: “Generally road widening schemes don’t benefit the communities who live near the works, it tends to separate them.”

Mr Gelder said the changes would lead to a reduction in air pollution in the area, as well as create better pedestrian and cyclist crossing points.