A major junction in Harrogate town centre is set to receive “state of the art” new traffic lights as part of a £210,000 investment.
The investment by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) will replace all of the lights at the crossroads where Parliament Street, Ripon Road, Crescent Road and Kings Road intersect.
The lights at the junction where Oxford Street joins Parliament Street will also be upgraded to “smart lights”.
The announcement comes just weeks after the traffic lights failed several times on the notorious four way system at the bottom of Parliament Street.
However, NYCC Executive Member for Highways, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said that despite the planned upgrades the failure was not an issue with the lights themselves. He said: “It’s a very busy junction, particularly because there are essentially two junctions there.
“We will be changing all of the traffic lights on those two junctions and at the junction where Parliament Street meets Oxford Street. They are very old but I believe that problem was due to power supply and not the lights themselves.”
While the lights were out of action, motorists were left to govern themselves, but many commented on social media that the usually heavily congested traffic had flowed much easier.
However, while Coun Mackenzie noted that on this occasion “we got away with it”, he warned taking the lights away permanently would be a “free-for-all”.
He said: “There are many people that say just take traffic lights away. That is fine if you consider only the needs of drivers but in busy town centres like Harrogate we have to consider the needs of mothers with pushchairs, pedestrians in general and people in wheelchairs.
"It was difficult for people to cross the road because they didn’t know which direction the traffic was going to come. I’m the road safety champion of North Yorkshire and we have got to ensure that junctions are safe for everyone. We got away with it but it would be a free for all if you took the traffic lights away.”
Work on the busy four way junction is due to start soon and the money has come directly from the County Council budget.
The improvements will include fitting the lights with ‘real-time’ detection systems so that traffic is not pointlessly sat at a red light.
Coun Mackenzie said: “We are making the traffic lights more effective. They will work in real time and so reduce delays and stop cars sitting at red lights when they don’t need to.
“We want to upgrade all of our traffic lights that haven’t already been upgraded so eventually all of our traffic lights will be smart lights.”
“We look at all of our junctions, it’s a constant thing - we will continue to invest in traffic lights to make sure we have the most up to date and state of the art lights that we can have.”