Ahead of the new Championship season, football fans and drivers in Leeds are urged to stay safe and pay attention to new road layouts on the M621.
National Highways is warning road users not to drive into coned off areas after three incidents on the motorway within three weeks where vehicles attempted to enter the exit slip at junction 2a near Holbeck – a road that has been permanently closed to traffic since 19 June 2023.
And as supporters are expected to arrive at Elland Road for the football season, kicking off with Leeds United’s home game against Cardiff City on Sunday 6 August, National Highways is urging everyone to avoid causing incidents where vehicles go into closed sections of road, known as incursions.
National Highways Project Manager Sal Hopkinson said:
“Safety is always our top priority. Unfortunately, since the closure of the exit slip, there have been a number of incidents where people have attempted to enter the closed-off work area.
“With the football season starting in August, and this area expected be even busier on match days, we want to make sure everybody – drivers and our workforce – gets home safe.”
In one incident, a heavy goods vehicle entered a coned off area at around 10:30am and drove up the slip road despite the barriers and signage in the area. The lorry drove at a speed of between 50 and 60 mph, weaving past a works lorry parked in the road closure.
“Luckily, at the time, the staff working in the area were on their break in the welfare cabin otherwise this could have been far more serious.
“We’ve put in place extra barriers to help prevent this happening again, however this shows how dangerous it is to enter someone else’s workspace, in a vehicle.
“In another incident on the M621, a broken-down car was parked near the exit of the works area before the junction 1 exit slip. While we were able to help the driver and arrange for recovery, a works area is not a place for vehicles to pull over in any circumstances.”
The junction 2a exit slip was permanently closed to enable upgrades around junction 2 (Elland Road) including a new signalised junction. Immediately afterwards, a temporary closure of Elland Road south from Baron Close was put in place while the main upgrade work is carried out.
However, Elland Road south from Baron Close is now reopening on Saturday 5 August, in time for the new football season. From this time, the junction will switch from two-way lights to three way lights and remain open in this configuration from this date.
“While we’re working to create better journeys in Leeds, we’re doing all we can to keep traffic flowing smoothly at the start of the football season.
“We’re asking people planning to travel to Elland Road to avoid driving into any areas that are closed off for works, and keep safe. If you are being dropped off, or dropping anyone off at the stadium, keep to safe stopping places well away from the motorway – never the slip roads.”
The upgrade to the M621 aims to ease congestion, increase capacity and enhance safety on the busy urban motorway.
Once complete, it will boost economic growth through improving journey times, traffic flow at peak times and average speeds.
In December, National Highways began adding and widening lanes at the busy junction 2 near Elland Road. These improvements will provide extra room at the junction to help keep traffic moving and reduce queues, so drivers can get to their destination sooner.
The scheme will also create free flow links connecting the A643 at junction 2, as well as extra lane capacity at both junctions 2 and 7.
Additional technology is proposed along the length of the motorway to safely manage traffic in the event of an incident and to keep drivers better informed.
All planned closures are updated each week on the National Highways M621 improvement page, where members of the public can also register to receive updates about the scheme and navigate a link to the M621 virtual hall.
Updates will also be shared on the National Highways website and social media channels.
You can find out further details on the National Highways website or by following @HighwaysYorks on Twitter.
This post is based on a press release issued by National Highways
Photo: Aerial shot of Junction 2a before the closure. Credit: National Highways.
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