LETTERS: Council explanation of £30m cost for Harrogate highways changes

FROM: Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 11:05 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 11:06 am
Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council

I have endeavoured to provide some additional reasoning behind the quoted figure of £30m (for town centre highway changes).

Here it is, via NYCC officers and the county council’s highways consultants. None of the areas of concern below includes any relocation of utility company assets and equipment, which is likely to be needed when junctions are reconfigured. Nor is mention made of the extensive period of disruption which would inevitably occur if this scheme were to go ahead.

Transforming the highway back to two operation is entirely possible but the following are key areas of concern;

•The potential need to introduce traffic signals to several junctions in order to ensure efficient traffic and positive road safety. These junctions operate effectively with one way operation but may need revisiting if looking at two way operation.

•The junction of the A61 and Tower Street (access to West Park Multi Story)

•The junction of the A61 and James Street

•Junction of the A61, The Ginnel and Oxford Street. Existing pedestrian crossing could be revisited.

•Changes both minor and major may need making to the following junctions

•The A61 and Beech Grove/Victoria Avenue

•Several minor junctions to limit turning movements (likely reduced to left in, left out or similar by using islands/kerbs and other physical infrastructure.

•The A61/Crescent Street junction close to the Turkish baths.

OPINION: Commemorative plaque unveiling reminds us we are lucky to be part of such a tremendous community - Coun Mike Holt, Mayor of Pateley BridgeIn each instance a key issue is likely to be around capacity. One way systems can help increase capacity for key movements by simplifying staging/junction operation. Making the A61 two-way again could create significant issues at several key junctions. At present two lanes approach from the north east to the junction of the A61/Crescent Road. One for straight on and one for right turn vehicles (towards Ripon). If traffic would be permitted to also turn left (south along the A61 towards Leeds) this could create a capacity problem. The A61/Otley Road junction will also benefit from the one-way operation on one arm.

We had assumed as part of this intervention the highway would be resurfaced which comes at significant cost given the coverage (900m).

Funding for changes of this nature (highway capacity and vehicle traffic management) is hard to come by. The focus at a national and regional level is increasingly around active/shared travel, creating a strong sense of place (culture heritage) and addressing the climate emergency. The plan to make the proposed highway changes could possibly be secured as part of a wider plan to transform the experience of travelling through and around the centre by other modes. This would likely involve landscaping, sustainable urban drainage, cycle lanes, significant public realm improvement (back of footway to back of footway upgrades) and application of high quality materials across the piece.

As noted above we think there may be a need to make major changes to several key junctions in order to address the capacity issues. It is hard to imagine a scheme like this being delivered along the A61 in central Harrogate for less than £30m. It is hard for us to give you advice on this as everyone might have a different idea of exactly what we are talking about. In any event, the key question is how this would be funded, how it fits with regional and national transport/planning policy and what the knock on consequences of some of the changes could be in terms of highway capacity and congestion.

Just like Harrogate, most large towns and small cities favour similar one way operation in the urban core for this very reason.