Will this plan fix Harrogate’s Leeds Road traffic problems?

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North Yorkshire County Council may have solved the long running problems at the Leeds Road and Hookstone Road junction, with a new raft of proposals set to go before a committee this week.

The council has scrapped the controverisal idea of removing the parking outside the Oatlands Parade in shops and however will not reintroduce a third southbound lane on the A61 Leeds Road, despite campaigners calling for it’s reinstatement.

A report due to go before the County Council’s transport, economy and environment overview and scrutiny committee on Friday reveals that the highways department at the council had raised ‘serious concerns’ about the proposals before work had even begun.

The council’s authority’s corporate director for business and environmental services, in consultation with Executive Members will vote on a final set of recommendations on Friday (July 3rd) on the changes to a major junction in Harrogate.

The proposals widening Leeds Road and Hookstone Road but retaining the current layout with two lanes for southbound traffic and three lanes for northbound traffic which the council report says will be improved by an enhanced traffic light control system.

Traffic officers said that the reintroduction of a third southbound lane, as proposed by the Oatlands Traders committee, would mean losing the second northbound lane after the junction which they say would make congestion worse.

The current road layout was installed as part of the new Marks and Spencer’s development on the former Nidd Vale Motors site on Leeds Road which was completed in spring 2014.

Commuters faced huge tailbacks while work was undertaken, and since the new road layout was installed, the County Council received numerous complaints regarding congestion at the junction with calls from regular road users to change it back to the original layout.

Some changes to road markings took place in February this year and a draft report published in March 2015 suggested removing the parking outside Oatlands shopping parade, which was met by fury from local residents and shopkeepers.

Barrie Mason, assistant director for highways and author of the report said: “We know that people have been very unhappy with the junction layout and we have listened very carefully to what people have had to say.

“As a result we have worked extremely hard to take account of all the responses. We have also carried out extensive traffic modelling of key suggestions.

“Harrogate is an expanding town with a thriving economy and this does mean that the road network becomes congested at peak times. The county council has invested heavily in the road infrastructure, improving the quality of roads and providing new facilities for all road users.

“Our aim has always been to make this junction work for the surrounding communities and all road users.

He added: “I would like to thank everybody who has taken the time to give feedback and I hope that people will recognise that the report strikes an appropriate balance between the technical analysis and the views expressed by road users.”

The key recommendations are:

- The echelon parking arrangement outside the shops on Leeds road will remain the same

- No third lane for the A61 Leeds Road southbound traffic

- Removing the protected right turn into Vernon Road from Leeds Road and removal of the red infill area to increase stacking space on Leeds Road southbound

- Carry out a public consultation on a ‘no entry’ restriction at the Vernon Road junction from Leeds Road

- Improve the existing traffic lights and timings by installing an enhanced traffic signal control system

- Remove of the regularly contravened no right turn restriction on Mount Street and provision of yellow box marking to help motorists enter Leeds Road to go northbound

- Introduce dropped kerbs at Firs Road and Leadhall Lane to assist pedestrians

- Reposition road markings at the Firs Road junction and right turn into Leadhall Lane

- Introduce a ‘no waiting and loading at any time’ restriction on the western side of the northbound Leeds Road exit lane

- Put up ‘merge in turn’ signs for the northbound Leeds Road exit lanes

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