The removal of the contra-flow marks the Regent Street Flyover project fully reopening the A64 to traffic.
The construction of the new flyover commenced two years ago in May 2020, after it reached the end of its usable life. Since then, both the southern and northern structures were demolished and rebuilt, with over 120 metres of new bridge installed. This project marks a major engineering achievement despite working through the Covid pandemic and challenges with suppliers, along with moving bridge beams from Scotland.
The bridge works have been completed as planned through a major £31million investment, with Balfour Beatty contracted to carry out the construction and bridge designed by WSP. The bridge plays a vital role in the daily life of the city, with an estimated pre-pandemic 43,000 vehicles passing over it every day while 30,000 vehicles pass below it on the A61.The New York Road tunnel off-slip will remain closed whilst further work is carried out in the tunnel.
These essential works form part of the Connecting Leeds transport strategy for the city, which sees an unprecedented number of schemes set to transform the way we travel. Connecting Leeds are working with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, partners, and stakeholders to improve all aspects of the transport network in Leeds and connecting to the wider Leeds City Region.
The replacement of Regent Street Flyover along with complementary works to the Armley Gyratory, ensures the Inner Ring Road will maintain traffic flow and enable the pedestrianisation of City Square.
Moving vehicles around the outer edge of the city and closing Neville Street to through traffic, can enable the council to transform the city centre for a more liveable, greener, and better-connected city. It will help spark major and wider improvement projects in the city centre, allowing opportunities to create better public spaces, for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport.
The schemes will add value to the changes already completed on the Headrow and surrounding streets, leading to City Square and the Corn Exchange Gateway. Giving priority to more pedestrianised areas and non-motorised vehicle movement, instead of heavy-trafficked spaces, will make a positive difference to improving the city’s carbon footprint and air quality.
Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for infrastructure and climate, said: “We’re delighted to see the highway fully reopen to vehicles again, across this important scheme replacing a key piece of the City’s infrastructure. I’m pleased to see this scheme completed on schedule, after two years of very challenging work through the pandemic. The maintenance of this essential route is vital to keeping traffic flowing around the city.
“Throughout the project, there’s also been significant contributions to the local economy. For example, contractors have mainly employed local people, engaged with up to 2,000 local students about working in construction and the site team have volunteered 243 hours in the local community. This has been a fantastic effort and investment in our local communities. And it’s great to also see almost 100% of waste diverted from landfill, with 227 tonnes of CO2 saved on the project.
“We would like to thank everyone involved in working on this scheme, along with people’s ongoing patience, while this essential project was carried out. Although it’s great to see another project complete, we’re conscious that there’s still a lot of work taking place around the city at this moment.”
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I’m delighted to see this major infrastructure project completed. It’s been a huge undertaking, but the result will last for decades to come and allows for work to remove through traffic from the city centre, creating better walking and cycling spaces for everyone.”
Stephen Semple, area director at Balfour Beatty, said: “We’re delighted to mark the full reopening of the A64 to traffic through the completion of the Regents Street Flyover, concluding two years of hard work and dedication.
“Employing 240 local people across the project, we’ve already delivered significant social value to the region. This new, vital piece of infrastructure will only serve to further improve the lives of the people of Leeds; reducing journey times and stimulating local economic growth.”