Harrogate Gateway: Highways boss's 'major concern' over one-lane traffic option for Station Parade
The highways boss at North Yorkshire County Council has expressed "major concern" that reducing traffic to one lane outside Harrogate train station could cause long queues on the surrounding streets.
The road changes have been proposed for Station Parade as part of the £7.9m Harrogate Gateway project which could also include a ban on cars on James Street with the aim of creating a more pedestrian and cycle friendly entrance to the town.
It has won the support of many residents but some have raised concerns that reducing road space for cars could be bad for business and lengthen queues - and councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member of access, says himself and other highway officials have their own worries.
Speaking at a meeting of the council's Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee yesterday, he said: "Whilst we can see huge advantages in creating a very pedestrian and cycle-friendly area in front of the railway station by reducing it to one lane, a major concern, for me personally also, is the effects that this will have on southbound A61 traffic.
"The last thing we want is to cause major hold-ups down down Cheltenham Parade and Ripon Road - and standing traffic with engines ticking over is very bad for air quality."
A public consultation on the proposals is underway and the council has stressed that no decision on the road changes has yet been taken.
There are two options on the table for Station Parade - leave it as two lanes of traffic or reduce it to one. Meanwhile, the partial or full pedestrianisation of James Street is also being considered, as well as an option to leave it untouched.
Other measures include two new bus priority areas at Lower Station Parade and Cheltenham Parade, junction upgrades, new cycle lanes and storage, as well as an increase in safe space for people on foot, new flexible public events spaces and water features.
The aim is to make the town more accessible by bike or on foot and while councillor Philip Broadbank, who represents the Starbeck division, said "this is the right way forward," he also has concerns over the impact on traffic flow.
He told yesterday's meeting: "The general direction is one we need to go in if we are going to encourage people to get out of the car for short journeys. But there are all sorts of things in there - some good schemes, some things questionable.
"I have concerns about one lane because of possible congestion and would personally prefer the two lane option."
Meanwhile, councillor Paul Haslam, who represents the Bilton and Nidd Gorge division, said he believes the longer queue times for motorists would be "minimal" and argued they would be outweighed by the benefits to pedestrians and cyclists.
Councillor Mackenzie added: "There are major issues here to resolve but certainly views of the public are what we are looking for.
"People don't like change and I think already we are seeing a fairly strong campaign being mounted in stopping any of these proposals going forward. But for me, I think they are really excellent and I am looking forward to helping drive them forward."
The consultation will run until 24 March and the aim is to finalise designs for construction to begin by summer 2022 with completion in 2023.
To have your say go to www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/harrogate
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter