The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has applied for £23m to turn the Queensbury Tunnel into a “high quality cycling route”. It has also urged the government to act swiftly before Highways England’s work to abandon the tunnel has progressed too far.
The Queensbury Tunnel was closed more than 60 years ago and is currently managed by Highways England on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT). However, the organisation wants to permanently close the tunnel due to perceived safety concerns.
Others believe the tunnel should become a key part of the proposed Bradford-Halifax Greenway cycle route, otherwise known as CityConnect 3, which would link Bradford District and Calderdale.
The 1.4-mile long disused railway tunnel would flatten the route enough that it could be used by commuters. A Sustrans study estimated the project could bring £37.6m in social, economic and tourism benefits over a 30-year period.
In October, Highways England ceased inspection and repair works at the tunnel on safety grounds following flooding caused by heavy rain.
Contractors then started filling in the No 2 Shaft of the tunnel. The Queensbury Tunnel Society, which is campaigning for the tunnel to become a cycle route, described the move as an act of “ruthless vandalism.”
The Telegraph and Argus reports that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has now applied for £23m from the government, which it says would fund, “remediation of the tunnel itself, a high quality cycling and walking route through the tunnel, and connections to the routes into Bradford and Halifax centres.”
However, the bid also warns: “The opportunity to deliver the scheme is finely balanced; without certainty over funding being available to carry out further development work and deliver the scheme, measures to ensure public safety may progress to the point where the opportunity is lost.”