Why '18 month' long Harrogate road closure is a false alarm

Alarm bells were set ringing by a public notice advertising an "18 months-long road closure" in Harrogate to build a new cycle path - but it appears to have simply have been a false alarm, at least partly.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 9:21 am
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 11:57 am
The major Harrogate road which looks set to be hit by 18 months of closures to vehicular traffic.

Readers took to social media via Harrogate Advertiser's State of Harrogate Facebook group over the weekend after spotting the latest news on the well-intentioned but controversial North Yorkshire County Council project.

The public notice in last week's Harrogate Advertiser said there were plans, quote, to "prohibit any vehicle from using Otley Road, Harrogate for 547 days."

The precise dates of the Otley Road closure for vehicles listed in the public notice are from November 8, 2019 to May 28, 2021.

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But it seems the notices are merely to enable work to place when required rather than actually meaning that the entire stretch of Otley Road from Prince of Wales roundabout area to nearly Beckwithshaw will be fully closed to traffic for the entire 18 months.

Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser, Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways and passenger transport, said:

"This has been the subject of social media activity for most of the weekend. A reader has clearly picked up this notice in your newspaper and concluded the worst!

"But it is a common practice by highways authorities to publish notices of up to 18 months' duration for impending highways works and closures, to save costly, repetitive adverts.

"In this case, the notice anticipates NPIF* works on Otley Road, including the construction of the off-road cycle path, junction upgrades and probably also developer schemes.

"The notice does not refer to 18 months of one whole closure but shorter closures in specific stretches of Otley Road during that 18 month period as the work progresses."

But the latest plans for the county council's environmentally-friendly but controverial project to build a cycle path on a major Harrogate road dubbed "Harrogate's Brexit" still mean disruption for both residents and drivers.

It follows a recent series of road works, closures and and disruption suffered by local residents and motorists caused by the UCI Road World Championships, road surface improvements and new house building.

The public notice in the Harrogate Advertiser also there will be traffic signs installed and a local alternative route signed where appropriate.

*(NPIF - National Productivity Investment Fund).