TRANSPORT bosses have agreed to part-fund multi-million pound roadworks that could improve access to Leeds Bradford Airport.

The scheme would involve rebuilding the Harrogate Road / New Line junction on the A658 at Greengates, Bradford - one of the main routes to the Yeadon airport.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) considered a report on the project, which is expected to cost about £8.7 million, at its annual meeting on Thursday, June 28.

It agreed to approve funds of £6.7 million, from the West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund, with the remaining costs expected to be paid for by Bradford Council.

Outlining the scope of the work, the report states that: “The project will rebuild the Harrogate Road / New Line junction to create anew junction to reduce congestion, increase safety provision for cyclists and pedestrians and support delivery of significant new housing developments, together with longer term development opportunities.

“The junction is situated on the corridor between Bradford and Leeds Bradford International Airport.

“The crossroads are a significant congestion pinch point with delays on all four legs having a detrimental impact on journey times between Bradford and the airport,

and also between Shipley / Airedale and Leeds.

“It will also facilitate housing development in the immediate area, and improve safety...for pedestrians and cyclists.”

It goes on to say that detailed plans for the scheme, with finalised costs, could be in shape to proceed by September, 2019.

Complications could delay that timescale, however, and a public inquiry - due to be held this November - has added to the total cost.

The WYCA is convinced that the work would deliver a host of benefits. They include:

*Reduced congestion on all approaches through the junction.

*Increased safety for cyclists and pedestrians by providing dedicated pedestrian crossing facilities, cycle lanes and advanced stop lines

*Improved air quality for local residents.

*Improved access to Leeds Bradford Airport and the new rail station at Apperley Bridge with its interchange capabilities.

Reaction to the news has been positive. MP Stuart Andrew (Con, Pudsey), whose seat includes Aireborough and Horsforth, said: “I think the Greengates junction has been a nightmare for local drivers for a very long time, with queues stretching up to Rawdon and through Calverley in my constituency.

“It’s been a source of frustration to many residents for a long time.

“News that the junction could finally be invested in to improve journey times is good and I look forward to monitoring progress.”

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon) said: “I welcome any scheme which improves transport links both to and around the airport, and this is a positive addition to recent highways proposals.

“I am, however, still concerned at the apparently piecemeal approach to works and would like to see a public transport / highway masterplan for the whole of North West Leeds which would reduce both congestion and pollution.”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Graham Latty (Con, Guiseley & Rawdon) added: “As a resident of Rawdon I would welcome any suggestions that might reduce the congestion on our roads, particularly those roads that carry through traffic.”

Bradford Council has submitted a compulsory purchase order to buy dozens of plots of land - including sections of pavement, car parking and gardens - around the crossroads ahead of the planned improvements.