North Yorkshire County Council says it is delighted that it's already hit 70% of its target for replies to its current public consultation over traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough.
With nearly seven weeks still to go in the 12-week public engagement , approximately 7,000 responses have been received so far.
Barrie Mason, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director for highways and transportation, said the level of interest has been encouraging: “We’re really pleased with the level of response we’ve had.
“We continue to get lots of forms submitted via our website.
"The key thing is that it looks as though there is a recognition from the emerging results that congestion is seen as a problem in Harrogate and that there is no one solution."
When the process was launched in early April, Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council's executive member for access, said he considered 10,000 replies would represent a good level of participation by the residents of Harrogate and Knaresborough and nearby villages.
Although the traffic congestion ideas addressed by the county council's online public survey are diverse and wide-ranging, it's the idea of a new road from Bilton to Forest Lane near Nidd Gorge which had met the most opposition from Harrogate-based politicians and resident groups.
But Barrie Mason said the aim of the consultation was simply to gauge public opinion, not to authorise concrete proposals.
He said: “We are trying first of all to find out what people think about congestion in Harrogate.
"Consultation would come if we develop more definitive proposals and we are not at that stage.
"This is at the very early stages of engagement and we are trying to find out what people think about congestion, and what people think about a range of potential options to solve that problem.
“It’s a complex issue to solve, so we encourage people to visit our website and fill in the questionnaire.
"The authority commissioned consultants to look into congestion in the towns and to consider its impact and how it could be addressed.
"The complexity of the area’s traffic issues means they are unlikely to be addressed by a single solution, so two indicative packages combining a range of potential measures have been developed.
"One focuses on managing demand for travel and encouraging people to change the way they travel.
"The second contains similar measures plus options for more substantial infrastructure developments, including park and ride facilities, bus priority measures and an inner relief road and a bypass for Killinghall.
"There has been no detailed design of any option at this early stage. The packages simply illustrate what could be done.
“It is essential a relief road option be considered if we are to gain government funding for whatever solution is taken forward.
“However, it does not necessarily have to form part of the solution.
“A relief road is one option within a complex package of options. We’ve developed a corridor where a potential relief road could go, but the relief road would not go close to the Nidd Gorge.
"I know there have been concerns expressed about the impact on Nidd Gorge. If taken forward, this option would be alongside more sustainable measures such as those to encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport. It would not be a sole solution.”
"With around seven weeks until the close of the public engagement, the county council is keen to hear from anyone who is affected by congestion in the towns but has not yet completed the questionnaire.
“The best way to get involved is to visit our website, to look at the information there, to start to think about congestion and those options that we’ve put forward as potential solutions and to fill in the form.
“If you want, you can visit one of our exhibitions – we are holding exhibitions across the area where officers will be present to explain the proposals.”