£4m action plan to ease Harrogate traffic woes

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Major work worth nearly £4m is to be carried out in Harrogate in the coming weeks to cut congestion and improve travel in the town.

Roads are to be resurfaced, cycle routes set up and pedestrian crossings improved.

There will be a new sustainable transport website, and new cycle storage throughout the town.

And, in the biggest change in recent history, a new real-time signalling system worth £950,000 is to be brought in alongside junction changes to ease congestion on Wetherby Road.

“This is by far and away the biggest investment in Harrogate’s transport infrastructure in recent times,” said Allan McVeigh, integrated transport manager for North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).

“There will be reductions in delays. We will be able to manage congestion traffic flows better, and that will benefit the local environment and economy for years to come.”

A total of nearly £4m has been set aside, with £1.2m for road resurfacing in Harrogate, £430,000 already spent on the A59 at Goldsborough, and a further £2.16m for signalling and sustainable travel. These latter works are part funded by the county council (£510,000) and the rest from a bid to the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (£1.65m).

“The Government funds are made available to boost the local economy, to unlock economic growth, and improve sustainable travel,” said Mr McVeigh.

“This, in recognising there is congestion in Harrogate and that something needs to be done about it, is to improve the local economy.”

Work on road resurfacing, brought forward because of the Tour de France, has already begun in parts of Harrogate.

Work began overnight on Skipton Road this week, with other roads to be resurfaced from now until May.

Other sustainable highways improvements started at the end of last year, and will continue until early 2015.

Pedestrian and cycling facilities, such as pelican crossings outside the train station, will be upgraded, and a new paved walkway will open between the Great Yorkshire Showground and Hornbeam Park. And a new traffic control system to improve signals on the A661 Wetherby Road will be brought in this summer, reacting to deal-time delays to ease the flow of congestion.

“This is to improve signalling to improve congestion,” said Mr McVeigh. “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.”

The council is now preparing a further bid to ask for more Government money for the Harrogate area.

It can ask for up to £1m to improve ticketing, branding on the rail line, travel information, and transport promotions for students.

And while it is major investment for the district, the council says it will be worth the work and the disruption it might bring.

“There is to be a huge amount of work across Harrogate,” said Mr McVeigh. “The over-arching aim is to support the local economy.

“There will be a degree of short term pain but in the longer term there will be major benefits to the community.”

l See next week’s Advertiser for a full report on what changes are coming and where the money will be spent.

What do you think? Write to the Editor at 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate, HG3 1RZ.