plans for a bypass around the communities of Bedale, Aiskew, and Leeming Bar have moved to the next stage following a Government offer to pay for nearly 85 per cent of the cost.
Members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive agreed to accept the offer by the Department for Transport of a £35.9m contribution towards the cost of an A684 relief road at a meeting on Tuesday, January 17 .
The council will have to find the remaining £6.5m from its own resources for the £42.4m scheme.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Coun Gareth Dadd, executive member for highways.
“We think it is right now to move forward to the next stage in the process. But we live in an austere economic climate, and the scheme will be constantly reviewed throughout this process to ensure costs do not escalate to a point where they become unviable.
“We are determined that the county council will not be exposed to any unacceptable risk.”
He added: “Having said that, we believe this road is essential for the future prosperity of a very large part of North Yorkshire. As well as being of obvious immediate benefit to Bedale and its surrounding communities, the bypass will make access to the northern Dales – one of the heartlands of the hugely important North Yorkshire visitor and tourism economy – very much safer and easier.”
The proposed bypass runs for just under three miles from Northallerton Road, on the eastern outskirts of Leeming Bar, to a new junction on the A684 near Bedale Golf Club.
Traffic flow on the existing road is approximately 14,000 vehicles a day, which the council says causes considerable congestion in the market town of Bedale and in Leeming Bar and Aiskew.
The council estimates that a bypass would cut traffic flow through the urban area by half and says it would reduce environmental and road safety problems, improve access to the A1(M) for local communities, and improve access to Leeming Bar industrial estate.
If the project goes ahead, the council says there would also be important economic benefits associated with the actual construction of the road. In addition to the employment of local labour on the work, local businesses would benefit from the demand for stone, aggregates, tarmacadam and concrete, it said.
“It is estimated that a large proportion of the £34m costs associated with the construction would be expended in the local economy over the two-year construction period,” said David Bowe, corporate director of business and environmental services in a report to the executive.
A wide-ranging consultation exercise conducted by the council in 2009 found a large proportion of people living in Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar were in favour of a bypass.