A SADDLEWORTH road junction dubbed ‘one of the very worst in North West England’ could soon be losing its unwanted title.
Campaigners are claiming a significant victory in their battle to keep Denshaw free of diverted M62 motorway traffic.
After two years lobbying for support and concessions, delighted villagers believe Denshaw’s notorious five-ways A road junction will be removed from future diversionary routes.
The “radical decision” of Highways England could come into operation in September 2018, according to Alan Roughley, chairman of Denshaw Village Association.
The new route diverts either all east or westbound – or both – traffic streams off the motorway between J21 Milnrow and J24 at Elland.
Going east, the new route is from J21 onto the A664 towards Rochdale, turning onto the A58 through Littleborough, Ripponden and Sowerby Bridge, re-joining the M62 at J24 Elland.
When the M62 is partially or completely closed, the appropriate entrances and exits to the M62 at J22 Windy Hill and J23 Outlane will also be closed.
Currently when an accident occurs anywhere between J21 and J23 traffic is diverted from Milnrow over the A640 Newhey- Denshaw hill and left at Denshaw Junction to go up the A672 to J22 Windy Hill.
It is exacerbated by many drivers using the A640 stretch from J23 Outlane to Denshaw as an alternative, often causing complete gridlock at the Denshaw crossroads.
Mr Roughley said: “The reasoning is that the A672 Windy Hill down to Denshaw and the A640 Denshaw-Newhey are basically narrow 19th century toll roads while all the roads on the new route have been widened to more modern standards.
“It may be longer than the present route but at least passes though districts where drivers can use local shops and toilets.
“We think that the steepness of our local hills and the Pennine weather has had a big influence.
“There cannot be many roads that have permanent ‘ice’ warning signs as does the Denshaw-Newhey road.
“The dreadful weather in February this year when Denshaw was cut off by the blizzard and 2,000 people were stranded overnight on the M62 between Outlane and Milnrow must have guided the Agency’s decision.
“That really was a major incident and there could so easily have been a considerable number of fatalities,” said Mr Roughley.
A spokesperson for Highways England said: “We’re considering changing the diversion route we use for closures on the M62 between junctions 21 and 22 near Saddleworth so that it avoids local communities in Denshaw.
“The proposed new route would run along the A58 between junction 21 at Milnrow and junction 24 at Huddersfield.
“We will make a final decision on the issue once we’ve fully consulted and received feedback from the police, councils, and local businesses and residents.”