Essential work is set to start next month to rebuild the Regent Street flyover in Leeds.
Senior councillors are expected to formally approve the plans for the key bridge which carries traffic on the Inner Ring Road at the meeting of the executive board next week (Wednesday 22 April).
That approval will allow detailed preparation work to be finalised with work then starting on site next month. The project is part of the city’s Connecting Leeds transport strategy and needs to be carried out despite the current coronavirus crisis because of the key strategic role the flyover plays in the city’s transport network and also because its current deteriorating condition means unless the work is undertaken the bridge would need to be closed to ensure public safety. Every precaution will be followed by contractor Balfour Beatty to ensure compliance with site, staff and public safety in terms of workplace practices and social distancing measures.
New visuals have been released to show how the rebuilt bridge will look, with the current steel and concrete flyover which was built in the late 1960s being replaced by a vibrant new gateway structure. Painted steelwork, integrated enhanced lighting and new public realm improvements also form part of the plans.
The bridge plays a vital role in the daily life of the city, with an estimated 43,000 vehicles passing over it every day while 30,000 vehicles pass below it on the A61. The first phase of the project will see the existing structure demolished and removed before the new bridge is then installed. The project, scheduled to be completed in spring 2022, will involve some overnight and weekend closures. The A64 (M) and A61 will remain open during the majority of the works. Their capacity of the A64(M) will be temporarily reduced from four lanes to two using a contraflow. The A61 Regent Street will maintain its current capacity of four lanes under the flyover throughout.
Leeds City Council chief officer for highways and transportation Gary Bartlett said:
“We would like to apologise in advance for any inconvenience this work may cause. However, we would also like to say this work is absolutely vital to ensure the bridge remains safe for road users moving around the inner ring road.
“The bridge plays a key role in the daily life of the city and needs to remain safe and serviceable, in particular for the key workers and emergency vehicles who need to access the nearby hospital buildings at this time. Without these works the rapidly deteriorating flyover would need to be closed to meet public safety.
“We would like to stress that the safety of the public and site staff is our priority and for this reason we will be taking steps to ensure compliance with social distancing measures on-site. We will continue to review our workplace policies to reflect the latest government guidance.”