Major work worth £4m is to be carried out across Harrogate district in coming weeks in a bid to reduce congestion and enhance the sustainability of the transport network.
£1.2m of road resurfacing work has been brought forward as the district prepares to host the opening stages of the 2014 Tour de France, while facilities are also set to be improved for pedestrians and cyclists.
£950,000 will be spent on signals and junctions, and transport bosses say the investment will benefit the district for years to come.
The improvements will include enhanced pedestrian crossings and pedestrian links from bus and rail stations to the centre of town, as well as increased cycle storage.
The investment covers £1.2m for extensive road resurfacing which has been brought forward in advance of the Tour de France in July.
It also encompasses £2.163m to support traffic engineering and signalling and sustainable transport and travel; a sum which includes £1.65m funding from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund and £510,000 from the county council.
The council says much of the resurfacing work will take place between 7pm and midnight.
“We will be carrying out extensive and sustainable highways works throughout Harrogate this year,” said County Coun Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways.
“Throughout this time we will make every effort to keep disruption to a minimum. But we urge residents and the travelling public to understand that although there will undoubtedly be some short-term inconvenience, in the long run these works will benefit the town greatly.
“Obviously the Tour de France will provide an enormous boost to the regional economy and we must prepare well for this great event. But overall, the aim is to improve the travel infrastructure in a multitude of ways in order to support the district’s continuing prosperity.”
Allan McVeigh, integrated transport manager for North Yorkshire County Council, said: “The Government made funds available to boost the local economy, to unlock economic growth, and improve sustainable travel.
“This is to improve signalling to improve congestion. But also to encourage people
to do more walking and cycling.
“We can’t engineer our way out of the problems in Harrogate at peak times. It’s also about encouraging people to get out of their cars.
“This, in recognising there is congestion in Harrogate and something needs to be done about it, is to improve the local economy.
“This is by far and away the biggest investment in Harrogate’s transport infrastructure. There will be a degree of short term pain but in the longer term there will be major benefits to the community.
“There will be reductions in delays. We will be able to manage congestion traffic flows, and that will benefit the local environment and economy.
“We are also asking people to think about how they travel and, where they can, to walk or cycle. That can only be a good thing. There is to be a huge amount of work across Harrogate. The over-arching aim is to support the local economy.” The county council is currently working on a bid of up to £1.5m for the next round of DfT Local Sustainable Transport funding which will seek to improve integrated travel options to create better
access for people using Harrogate’s bus and rail stations.#
£1.2m of resurfacing work:
Resurfacing work has already been completed on Harlow Moor Road, and Palace Road, Ripon
Work began this week on the A59 East Skipton Road from the Empress Roundabout to the New Park Roundabout, and will continue until March 14
Work on the A59 West Skipton Road, from New Park Roundabout to Crowberry Drive will begin on March 17 and run until March 21.
Work will take place on the A61 Parliament Street from Prince of Wales to Kings Road up until March 28
The A61 from Kings Road to Knox Mill will be resurfaced between March 31 and April 2l The A59 from the Dropping Well pub to Blubberhouses will be completed by the end of May
Work is also ongoing on the A59 at Kex Gill to improve stability of the slopes.
Improvements to be carried out to pedestrian and cycle facilities until early 2015
Work on traffic engineering and signalling and sustainable travel worth £2.16m, which is coming from the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) and £510,000 input by the county council:
New footway and bus shelter opposite Church Square, Knaresborough Road and crossing facilities at York Place and Oatlands Drive and East Parade and Park View
Improved pelican crossing outside Harrogate’s railway station completed January, with better visibility and repaving
Construction began this month on the Yorkshire Showground Greenway cycle and pedestrian route, with a surfaced path from Hornbeam Park rail station for those attending events
New and upgraded cycle storage facilities at key locations throughout Harrogate town centre
Upgrades to traffic signals and junctions on the A661 Wetherby Road corridor will begin in the summer to cut delays
A dedicated Harrogate travel website and smart phone application will provide sustainable travel information to encourage more people to explore by walking and cycling.
MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough Andrew Jones (Con) said: “The roads have certainly suffered over several poor winters and are in sore need of additional funding. The £4m is therefore very welcome but the backlog of repairs and improvements is far in excess of that figure.
“The leader of North Yorkshire County Council accompanied me to see the Transport Secretary last week where we discussed the state of North Yorkshire’s roads and potential additional funding by the Government. I will be following this up with Ministers over the coming weeks. We have one of the biggest road networks in the country, so our argument is for special help to match our special circumstances.”
Bilton and Nidd Gorge County Coun David Simister (Ukip) said: “When you look at what they are spending the money on, the majority of the £4m seems to be being spent on resurfacing, and projects that have already been completed such as the bus shelter at Christ Church.
“For them to say it will ease traffic congestion, I am incredibly sceptical about that. The only way we can reduce congestion is to look at a bypass again, to take the traffic away from the town centre.
“We should have an experimental period where we turn the traffic lights off on Skipton Road. The people whol live there would welcome a trial but the council will not do it.”
Coun Helen Flynn (Lib Dem) said: “The solution is to take traffic off the roads. 70-75 per cent of traffic in Harrogate is local so when people talk about bypasses that is not going to solve the issue. Taking traffic off the roads means using more bikes and buses, so the bus network has to be suitable for that.
“I would like to look into a park and ride option. People have been talking about such a scheme for a while.”