Are Harrogate roadworks due to cycling events?

Forget the cost in pounds and pence, if there’s a price being paid for Harrogate’s current roadworks nightmare right now it’s being paid by ordinary motorists and residents.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 12:56 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:03 pm
Harrogate's roadworks misery - This particular 'temporary' traffic control is located at Kingsley Road.
Harrogate's roadworks misery - This particular 'temporary' traffic control is located at Kingsley Road.

Like most other towns, shortlived roadworks aren’t uncommon in Harrogate.

The last week alone has seen the barriers and the signs coming down at three places in Harrogate where the work wasn’t major and disruption relatively brief - at North Park Road, Chatsworth Grove and Otley Road.

But the situation in three other parts of Harrogate is substantially different.

The roadworks at Prince of Wales roundabout, the Otley Road/Crag Lane/Beckwith Head Road crossroads and Kingsley Drive near Knaresborough Road have been there for a matter of months now and show no signs of ending soon.

Disruption has been acute. Delays lengthy. Minor chaos frequent. And it's not mainly the fault of cycling events coming to Harrogate...

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Horticap, a charity for adults with learning disabilities who train in horticulture based on Otley Road said the roadworks at Harlow Carr had deterred people from visiting to such an extent that it took just £3 one day.

On Kingsley Drive and Kingsley Road a resident who wishes to remain anonymous has told this newspaper that there has been no access for private vehicles to get on a number of houses’ drives for several weeks.

Amid the dust, mud and noise, residents have also told this newspaper about being forced to park their cars on nearby roads with elderly people having to carry their goods and shopping to their front doors.

Such has been the chaos caused by ongoing work by Yorkshire Water on £3 million worth new pipelines in the Prince of Wales roundabout area, the utility firm felt the need to brief the town;s MP about it in person.

Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce president described the bottlenecks and confusion in that area feeding into Leeds Road and Station Parade as “the last thing town centre businesses need at the moment.”

Harrogate Borough Council recently offered permit holders who usually park at West Park multi-storey car park on Tower Street the option of parking in Victoria car park, off East Parade as a way of avoiding this traffic blackspot.

One reader even got in touch to say that on Sunday her husband had turned into a traffic policeman after seeing a a car drive into the Prince of Wales roundabout the wrong way - to be followed by three cars doing the same thing.

The good samaritan took it upon himself to move the traffic into the right lanes!

As with most problems, Harrogate’s tsunami of roadworks with their temporary multi-way signals and dreaded traffic cones has multiple causes and involves multiple agencies, from utility companies, to housing developers to North Yorkshire County Council.

It doesn’t help that the main arterial roads in and out of the town centre - Knaresborough Road, Skipton Road, Wetherby Road and Leeds Road - are already logjammed at peak times.

The common thread to the new circumstances is a swathe of housing building across Harrogate.

As the diggers move in and the bricks and mortar arrive, the work also necessitates the expansion and improvement in infrastructure by the likes of British Gas and Yorkshire Water.

Throw in road surface improvements by the county council to prepare for the arrival of both the Tour de Yorkshire and the UCI Road World Championships later in the year and it feels like a perfect storm has hit Harrogate.

Every change for the better comes with a price but the roadworks misery affecting much of Harrogate may well go for months, if not years.

Although the world’s greatest cyclists will arrive in a surge of glory and then depart, going forward, housing developments will not be so brief.

Under pressure from the Government, Harrogate Borough Council is working towards helping deliver more than 14,000 new homes in the district from now until 2035.