Relief road bid to ease Harrogate traffic nightmare to be submitted within months

Traffic in Harrogate
Traffic in Harrogate

The bid for a new multi-million pound relief road in Harrogate to ease traffic congestion is a “matter of months” from being submitted to Government.

In October last year, North Yorkshire County Council revealed that plans for a new Harrogate bypass would be “top priority” in their Strategic Transport Prospectus.

During a Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce meeting on Monday evening, Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for Highways confirmed the Steering Group into the relief road met for the first time last week.

Coun Mackenzie explained that the group will discuss four possible locations for the route and will be aiming to submit their bid to Government in a matter of months.

The road is expected to cost the government around £70m-£100m but Coun Mackenzie stressed that the road would be good value for money; benefitting East to West connectivity as well as easing Harrogate congestion.

He said: “This is the beginning of a process towards what would be the biggest investment in our highway infrastructure since the Southern Bypass in the early 1990s.

“Harrogate is a very successful town and we attract lots of visitors. As a result we have 21st century traffic but we are having to make do with mid 20th century highway infrastructure which people are concerned about.

“Everyone recognises that we need new homes for our children or employees in the district to buy or rent and then move in to. But the reason most people are against new developments is that it will make congestion worse.

“Although we mess about with our junctions and do little things to mitigate against developments we are not going to convince people that we can allow lots of new homes to be built until we make fantastic improvements to our highway infrastructure.”

The Steering Group will now deliberate between four possible locations for the relief road with the ultimate aim of allowing people to travel quicker from one part of the district to another.

Coun Mackenzie revealed that initial reports showed that there would be a “far bigger benefit” to have a relief road closer to Harrogate and Knaresborough in order to reduce traffic volume.

The bid to Government is expected to cost between £500k to £1m but will be financed by money raised by parking charges.

Coun Mackenzie said: “Our job is to persuade the Government that what is a relatively small outlay would represent good value for money. This would not just benefit Harrogate but will also improve East-West connectivity within North Yorkshire.

“If approved, the road will take about seven years to complete but we are working as quickly as possible in drawing up the initial bid.”