Road closures and timetable of roadworks revealed as Otley Road cycle path finally gets go-ahead

Some began to think it would never happen but the announcement of the imminent start of work on Harrogate’s first major cycle path for years has been welcomed as a turning point in the town’s march towards a more sustainable transport future.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 6:15 pm
Updated Friday, 10th September 2021, 6:16 pm
Works will start on the long-awaited Otley Road cycle path later this month.

After nearly three years of delay caused by various public consultations, ongoing work by utility services, preparatory road alterations and a protracted wrangle over the plan’s precise impact on pieces of grass verge, construction of a new Government-funded cycle way along Otley Road will finally begin on Monday, September 20.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for transport, Coun Don Mackenzie hailed the changes being delivered - as part of the Government’s £4.6m award to the council to bring sustainable transport in the west of Harrogate - as good for the environment and good for residents.

“These measures are essential to accommodating existing traffic and supporting future growth, as set out in Harrogate Borough Council’s Local Plan,” he said. “The improvements will also significantly benefit the community and help create a better-connected and safer network for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as alleviating congestion along the Otley Road corridor.”

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The scheme on the B6162 between College Street and Arthurs Avenue will see PBS, a Hull-based civil engineering company, begin the construction of an off-road cycle route, which will link into the developing cycle network, and an additional lane at the Otley Road/Harlow Moor Road junction.

The cycle route, which is expected to be completed in late November, will utilise the wide footpath and verges of Otley Road, taking cyclists on both sides of the road and, wherever possible, segregated from the carriageway.

The aim is to encourage cycling to and from Harrogate town centre and will link to important destinations within the town.

News of a firm start date for the work has been welcomed by Harrogate Borough Council, which set a goal of achieving a net zero carbon economy in the district by 2038.

Coun Phil Ireland, Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member Carbon Reduction and Sustainability, said: “It is great to see that work will soon be under way to see the delivery of the first phase of an excellent active travel link, along a key corridor that connects the town centre and west Harrogate.

“The new cycle path, combined with improvements at the Otley Road/Harlow Moor road junction will complement recent traffic signal changes at this junction and will help to improve safety for all users of the corridor, as well as alleviating congestion issues in an area planned for future growth.”

The project will also see changes to junctions, including Harlow Moor Road with Otley Road which will be widened with a left turn lane into Harlow Moor Road created. The aim is to address the impact of queuing traffic in the short term, and in the longer term will provide capacity for the growth identified in the Local Plan for new housing.

North Yorkshire County Council said it was working hard to keep disruption to a minimum. Work will mainly be between 7am and 5.30pm on weekdays only with temporary traffic lights operating.

Pedestrian access and access to homes and businesses will be maintained.

Coun Mackenzie, pictured, said: “The work has been timed to start after the busy summer holiday period, but we realise there will be some disruption, so we apologise for that and thank people in anticipation for their patience.

“Most of the work will be carried out during the day, to minimise noise for residents at night, though some work, such as resurfacing, can be carried out only at night under a full road closure.”

Not all residents happy with proposed cycle path

Residents in the area face at least ten weeks of disruption and there are worries over the impact of the cycle path on daily life after it is completed.

Otley Road resident Chris Dicken, who is a cyclist, contacted the Harrogate Advertiser this week to say, in his opinion, the new cycle path was “badly designed” and would create as many problems as it solved.

“Whilst we all want sustainable transport, there are a number of issues to take into account whilst developing this.

“Good design is essential. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Otley Road. How many people who support it realise that it is actually 58% shared pavement, where cyclists and pedestrians will have to fit in together?

“There will be 37 new signs between Cold Bath Road and Harlow Moor Road, grass verges lost and tarmac increased - which may affect flooding issues in Otley Road. The general effect on the built environment will not be good.”

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Impact of work on life on Otley Road

North Yorkshire County Council says the work will be completed in five phases:

Phase 1: College Road to Hill Rise Avenue;

Phase 2: Hill Rise Avenue to Pannal Ash Drive;

Phase 3: Pannal Ash Drive to Pannal Ash Road;

Phase 4: Pannal Ash Road to Cold Bath Road;

Phase 5: Otley Road and Side Roads surfacing.

Resurfacing work on sections of Otley Road and side roads is expected to be carried out between Tuesday, November 9 and Wednesday, November 24 between 7pm and 3am using a road closure.

Work on the carriageway in phases 1 through 4 will be carried out using temporary traffic lights from 9.30am to 3.30pm. Work to the footpaths will be completed between the hours of 7.30am to 5pm.

Temporary traffic lights will be in operation throughout.

Access to residential properties and businesses will be maintained throughout.

The council says it will liaise with Harrogate Grammar School to ensure the safe movement of pupils and vehicles to the school.