The Transport Talk column with Don Mackenzie
Plans to divert the A59 trans-Pennine route northwards away from Kex Gill to a more stable alignment have moved forward in recent weeks. Three public drop-in events featuring the preferred re-alignment of this trans-Pennine route were held earlier this month.
These sessions, which took place in Skipton, West End and Harrogate, were attended by the County Council’s project officers and by representatives of the design consultancy firm, WSP. Almost 200 visitors to the events had the opportunity to see the detailed designs, to view the plans and to watch a 3D computer-generated model of the re-aligned road, which runs along the top of the north side of the gill.
NYCC is about to submit a planning application for the new road, and next month plans to send a final business case to the Department for Transport with the view to secure funding.
Last week, my executive colleagues and I approved a report seeking authority to take all necessary steps to make the Compulsory Purchase Order and Side Roads Order to acquire the land needed for the new route, should such Orders be needed. As always, every effort will be made to secure the land by negotiation. There are over 20 different landowners involved and a total land area of 33 hectares.
Subject to granting of planning permission, approval of funding by the Department for Transport, and on the assumption that the Secretary of State does not call for a public enquiry, it is hoped to start construction work next spring and have the new road finished by summer 2021.
The cost of the whole project is estimated at £43.7m of which £4.95m has already been set aside in NYCC’s capital budget.
Harrogate Congestion Study
A further report, which came to the Executive last week, was a review of the responses to the public engagement earlier this year on the Harrogate Congestion Study, and included a series of recommendations to combat traffic congestion and its effects in Harrogate and Knaresborough.
There was unanimous agreement to upgrade the current Harrogate Cycling Infrastructure Plan to include one for walking also, and to prepare bid-ready routes for all identified travel corridors.
The option of a relief road between Harrogate and Knaresborough will not be progressed now, but an initial assessment of a Killinghall Bypass will be undertaken, including, but not limited to, the existing alignment.
There will also be a traffic and economic assessment of road options to link the B6162 Otley Road to the A61 Leeds Road, an area in which major residential development is taking place and planned.
Park and Ride will be subject to a feasibility study, including the potential for existing bus services to carry P&R passengers.
The option of a congestion charge will not be taken forward, but the current round of meetings concerning parking strategy with Harrogate Borough Council will be completed, and on-street parking charges will be reviewed, including in Knaresborough where it is currently free.
There was strong support to identify pilot schemes in the short term to test the effectiveness of various measures.
Following the success of the Bond End scheme last year, other changes to traffic management, such as replacement of signalised crossings with zebras with Belisha beacons, will be assessed.