Harrogate’s traffic nightmare could be set to ease after North Yorkshire County Council revealed plans for a new bypass would be a ‘top priority’.
The Executive committee is set to consider several long-term improvements to transport links across the county as part of a 30-year strategy when it meets next week.
As well as transforming the Leeds-Harrogate-York railway with new infrastructure to improve journey times, the committee will consider a new Western bypass of Harrogate.
The idea of a second bypass in Harrogate has long been discussed at NYCC to ease traffic congestion in Harrogate with a £500,000 study for a northern bypass supported last November.
However, a potential A59 bypass would help improve east to west connections as well as easing congestion along Skipton Road, according to NYCC’s executive member for highways.
Coun Don Mackenzie, (Cons, Harlow Moor) described the proposals as ‘large scale, expensive projects’ but warned Harrogate’s congestion problem could not be solved overnight.
He said: “Improving our transport links is vital for building on our strong economy. North Yorkshire is the biggest county in the county and we are at the heart of transport improvements that need to take place.
“Anybody in Harrogate will tell you that if you’re travelling to Lancashire and want to avoid the M62 then you would go along the A59 and come to Skipton Road.
“This causes congestion so clearly one of our top priorities is to enable traffic through traffic from Harrogate and the A59. We are already looking at a Northern relief road to take traffic from New Park to the A1.
“In Harrogate we do suffer from congestion so this requires improvement and means looking at a western bypass for Harrogate to take traffic away from the centre.”
Coun Mackenzie admitted that NYCC would not be able to afford to pay for the long-term plans themselves and would need some assistance from Central Government.
“The government talks a lot about a Northern Powerhouse and support for the North so we are telling them that these are our priorities and we need money to bring them to fruition,” Coun Mackenzie said.
“We always look over 30 years because it takes as much as 30 years to get a major transport infrastructure plan off the ground from scratch.
“As traffic problems increase with our current infrastructure, we will not be able to slow the congestion problem overnight. We need to improve the infrastructure but we need to spend a lot of money.
“I’m quite sure that all residents in Harrogate want to see us making basic improvements to our highways and railway infrastructure.”
UKIP County Coun David Simister (UKIP, Bilton and Nidd Gorge) has been heavily involved in plans for a new bypass in Harrogate and said previous NYCC work had provided no benefit to motorists.
He said: “It was a year ago that I put forward to the Harrogate Area Committee asking for the council to investigate a Northern Bypass but we’ve heard nothing since the traffic survey.
“I’m looking forward to seeing further proposals from this as Harrogate is clearly in desperate need of a bypass. The recent improvements to the traffic lights are no improvement whatsoever.”