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A61 Roadworks - The Full Story

Friday July 5 2013


Some of the problems that have faced A61 workers Some of the problems that have faced A61 workers


WE Are Barnsley were invited down to see the progress of the long-running roadworks on the A61 on Wednesday morning. Cllr Roy Miller has given us a new finish date, but here's the full story.

For many years the Burton Road junction on the A61 has caused delays at rush hours. While it's annoying for us road users, it also has a knock-on effect on the area's residents causing noise, access problems and poor air quality. 

Barnsley Council targeted the area to improve the road and £5million in central government funding became available in 2009/10. Despite having not completed land acquisitions, the authority had 'no choice but to start if we ever wanted to do the scheme'. Work subsequently started in December 2010.

Land ownership has been a big problem. Ongoing discussions with NGrid, Wickes and Aberdeen Asset Management (the owners of the Wickes site) have been ongoing. These should have been agreed before the work started, but given the council's 'window of opportunity' to secure the funding, they went ahead without it.

The land transfer agreements were signed in January 2012 with NGrid. However, negotiations continued with the Wickes site's owners and proved even more difficult. Access to the land on Old Mill Lane to start widening the road wasn't available, so the contractors had to stop their work. The problems with the site was concluded and work started again on November 19 of last winter.

More disruption soon came. The council had 'their hands tied' at this point as Yorkshire Water, BT and Virgin Media had cabling and pipes underneath the site. 

Cllr Roy Miller said: "Because of this, it may have appeared that not much was happening on site, but I assure you that it was progressing."

Outside parties were involved and the council then had to work around them, having to move underground pipes and fibre optic cabling.

"Everyone was working hard off the site, getting to the bottom of the issues," said Cllr Miller. "We were effectively held hostage and were required to carry out everything so that we could continue with our original aim."

Paul Bray, the council's head of design and transportation, said: "Even Japanese knotweed got in the way. Several metres of it had to be disposed of as it has the power to go through concrete."

A protected specie of bat was next up to cause a delay. Roosting underneath an on-site bridge, they've now been successfully relocated.

I'm pleased to report that there has been good work, though. A new access road which runs by the school on Burton Road will help to alleviate traffic in the area; the council claim that 90 per cent has been directed elsewhere.

I was also surprised by how much work goes on away from view. The vast majority of the delay has been caused by underground works and the moving of pipes, cables and wires. Trees have been planted at the back of the site and the ground - particularly on the riverside - has been strengthened.

You will see the traffic flow being moved to the opposite side in coming weeks as new tarmac is laid and the work edges nearer to its finish.

"People don't see the work we've done underground," Cllr Miller said. "It's been difficult for us but the contractors have done a great job - one that's on budget."

The A61 has long been a huge talking point on We Are Barnsley, but the end is now in sight.

However, a few people asked me to get in touch with Cllr Miller after we published the original story on its new completion date, so we asked him what you wanted to know. 

One asked: "What about the current dangers that the A61 is posing, BMBC? It has been reported via Fix My Street that grit is all over the place, the potholes are nearly six inches deep, the adverse camber is a massive danger to motorcyclists who are taken totally unaware! The bottom of Wakefield Road should be shut without delay and the repairs should be done for the sake of someone losing a life. It is utterly disgraceful."

Cllr Miller: "The road surface is inspected, swept and potholes repaired as necessary. Provided that motorcyclists adhere to the speed limit, then any adverse camber can be safely negotiated."

Another asked: "Who signed off the works before the land was in council ownership, which initially caused the delay?"

Cllr Miller: "It was not, as your viewer says, 'signed off'. In November 2010, the coalition government carried out its Comprehensive Spending Review. The effect of the review could have prevented the opportunity to construct this much needed bypass. Barnsley Council was placed in the position that in order to safeguard the bypass, it had to commence work on site almost immediately or risk losing the funding permanently. Although commencement was accelerated, not all land access agreements were completed as normally happens for highway schemes. However, all parties agreed to cooperate in recognition that the construction of the bypass was paramount and important for the residents of Barnsley. The land access agreements did cause delays but these have now been completed and the final phase of the scheme is underway and should be completed by September."

You can see our video here.

What do you think? Have your say below.

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16 Showing 16 comments

Reply Posted by rainbow on Friday July 5 2013 at 10:42
In short it's been a cockup.!!

Reply Posted by Mike Lee on Friday July 5 2013 at 11:36
Completed by September??It should have been completed in Spring 2012! What about the important question - How much did it cost Barnsley Ratepayers extra to purchase the land that belonged to Wickes? Don't we have a Planning Department anymore? I'd like to see what benefits it provides to the Barnsley motorists when it finally is completed (other than the bus users of course!!)

Reply Posted by A Motorcycle on Friday July 5 2013 at 11:45
Cllr Miller obviously assumes that motorcyclists are always going over the speed limit and to be honest, I find this comment offensive! It shows how out of touch this Cllr is with the current situation and it equally shows that he has a disregard for the safety of motorcyclists in general. He automatically assumes that we are all "Barry Sheene's". This is about the way BMBC has handled the situation of pot holes and such while construction has taken place. How many claims have been sent in and how many have been rejected? The pot holes on the corner, over the old bridge are criminal. You have lacked leadership Cllr Miller ~ Resign!

Reply Posted by john on Friday July 5 2013 at 16:24
i travel along this road regularly & have never seen a pothole filled in before or during these "works". i drive a transit van & it gets shaken all over the place as an ex biker i would hate to go over that bit of road on a bike. How the contractors can be on budget when they had to pay for all large machinery to be taken away & then brought back to site & security to pay for during the non work period, so if they are still "on budget" they must have priced it way over the top. bet we never get to see any actual figures, & as for the bus lane more cars use the inbound buslane on wakefield rd than do buses.

Reply Posted by simple simon on Friday July 5 2013 at 19:20
Of coarse the Wickes owners are going to hold out, the ball is in their corner, if someone wanted to make a road through my property that they had already started i;d hold off for them to pay through the nose for it

Reply Posted by trish on Sunday July 7 2013 at 18:48
MUST ADMIT I BECAME VERY BORED READING THIS!!! WHAT A JOKE! IF WE WENT AHEAD WITH AN EXTENSION WITHOUT PLANNING PERMISSION WOULD THE COUNCIL MAKE S TAKE IT DOWN??! YES I THINK SO!
THIS MAKES ME LAUGH. ITS SO TYPICAL OF BARNSLEY COUNCIL. NEVER STRAIGHT FORWARD, ALWAYS PROBLEMS. AS SOON AS THE LAST INCH IS COMPLETE THE WEEK AFTER I SUPPOSE THE MEN WILL BE BACK DIGGING GREAT BIG HOLES AND THE TEMP TRAFFIC LIGHTS UP AGAIN!!! ANOTHER BILL FOR THE BARNSLEY RATE PAYERS AS SUPPOSE. I AVOID THAT AREA AT ALL COSTS. ITS A NIGHTMARE!!

Reply Posted by mick on Sunday July 7 2013 at 18:48
Give Councillor Miller a knighthood :)

Reply Posted by Paul on Sunday July 7 2013 at 18:58
What an absolute joke! Bats, cables really! The firm who surveyed the site should be sued for being bloody useless

Reply Posted by Bob on Sunday July 7 2013 at 19:01
Cllr miller claims £24000 in expensers for doing a 4 hour day.what a waste of money he is

Reply Posted by Paul on Sunday July 7 2013 at 19:12
If he thinks the road surface at the bottom of wakefield road heading out of town is acceptable then the lights are on but there's no-one home! It pounds my car twice a day that even at low speed and with the cones placed, you can even avoid it... Come on, put a bit of bloody Tarmac down for Christ sake!!

Reply Posted by annoyed resident on Sunday July 7 2013 at 20:47
What a joke the whole thing is. I live very close to where the work is being done (when it is) and to say the traffic is less is a lie, if anything it is doubled due to the temp lights. The dirt and fumes we (close by) have to put up with is ridiculous and we see no end to the councils mistakes. Several times the access to where we live has been blocked due to work being carried out without informing us about what is happening.
We were told that the traffic would be less and safer for the children going to the school. All this is good, but what about the residents who have to put up with the nightmare we see every day. Why do we pay rates?

Reply Posted by Grum on Monday July 8 2013 at 17:33
Should have slapped a compulsory purchase order on the wickes land earlier then shouldn't they.
Funny how they can compulsory purchase everything else isn't it?

Reply Posted by E on Tuesday July 9 2013 at 10:48
Which September are we talking, this September, next year September or even the one after that?

Reply Posted by Fred on Wednesday July 10 2013 at 16:40
Is councillor Miller going to resign due to his meteoric cock up?
I doubt it, he will continue to claim his expenses.

Reply Posted by Brian on Saturday July 13 2013 at 03:36
av gorra r8 idea, why dunt council employ Poles to fix wakey roard?
It ed b dun in a fotnit!
Lazy council workers! mek em redundant and set poles on a se!

Reply Posted by BarnsleyFred on Saturday August 24 2013 at 17:25
Cllr Miller Quotes: "The land access agreements did cause delays but these have now been completed and the final phase of the scheme is underway and should be completed by September." THA'S GOT ONE MORE WEEK CLLR MILLER AND IT STILL LOOKS LIKE A DISASTER ZONE... RESIGN AND PUT SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO ORGANISE THIS SCHEME IN YOUR PLACE. YOU ARE A DISGRACE.