A MULTI-MILLION pound improvement project for a busy crossroad which provides a gateway to and from Bradford and Leeds has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Harrogate Road-New Line Junction Improvement Scheme was approved back in January 2019, with the aim of easing congestion at Greengates Crossroad.

It is a major route for commuters and general motorists.

In July last year it was announced the budget for the project had reached £11.4 million (from an initial £8.7 million) and 15 months of works were set to begin in February 2020.

But, the project manager of the scheme sent a letter to the community on Thursday revealing construction has been put on hold due to the "unprecedented situation".

It said: "The main construction works were programmed to commence on site shortly but due to the current unprecedented situation, due to the COVID-19 virus movement restrictions, the Council have made the decision to postpone the works.

"We have not taken this decision lightly but after taking account of current Government guidance and the impact this would have on progressing the works, we feel that it is appropriate to take this action.

"Unfortunately, until the Government guidance on the lifting of movement and social distancing measures is published, we cannot confirm a revised start date.

"We will continue to review the situation and we will update you as soon as we have more information.

"We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but we hope that you will be able to enjoy the improvements once completed."

The improvements include road widening all approaches to the junction to increase capacity and reduce congestion.

It is expected they will help not only drivers, but also pedestrians and cyclists.

Leader of The Liberal Democrat & Independent Group in Bradford, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland (Idle and Thackley) admitted the postponement is frustrating, but feels a short delay in the process, after waiting almost two decades for the change, is minute in the grand scheme of things.

She said: "Obviously we're really disappointed, but we understand entirely the need to make sure that the people working on the job stay safe and can operate the social distancing rules and it's clearly not possible on the job.

"So, we've waited 17-and-a-half years for progress, so another six months - as long as people stay well - is fine.

"It's being kept under regular review and the contractors have been appointed, so they will be able to get on site as soon as they possibly can."

The news was also shared on a community Facebook page and generated mixed reactions.

One person described it as "inevitable" and others agreed safety at this time is paramount.

But some were left baffling, saying now was the best time to start the works with the roads being quieter.

Mike Frazer, Secretary of Greengates and Apperley Bridge Community Volunteers, said: “Many residents have said they are not happy that the Greengates junction project has been suspended because they think this would be the ideal time to start these massively disruptive works, because traffic is a lot lighter since many people are observing the Governments advice to stay at home during this pandemic.

“However, we have to accept that the contractors themselves have to work safely and, during this lockdown, only essential works should go ahead.

“So this decision taken on the advice of experts has to be respected.”