The Transport Talk column with Don Mackenzie

A warning of roadworks in the town centre.
A warning of roadworks in the town centre.

Utility companies, especially gas and water, will be busy with renewal works on Harrogate town centre roads over the next several weeks.

Excavations by Northern Gas Networks (NGN) to renew a gas main on King’s Road between Parliament Street and Cheltenham Crescent started last week and are scheduled to last until 10 November.

Temporary lights replace the fixed ones, various lanes are closed off, and turns into Crescent Road from Parliament Street and Ripon Road are prohibited.

A second phase of work by NGN starts on 6 November on Ripon Road to connect up joining pipes at the junctions with Coppice Drive (6-13 Nov) and Duchy Road (13-24 Nov). Temporary lights will be in place.

The Highways Authority operates a Christmas Embargo on roadworks in December, which means that NGN will return to complete the Swan Road junction in the New Year.

Highways officers have stressed to NGN that traffic management, especially during the Harrogate Christmas Market, should be kept to a minimum. For their part, NGN have agreed to work longer hours and weekends to complete the work before the Christmas Embargo.

Yorkshire Water contractors will start major water main renewals on Otley Road from 8 January to last for about 10 weeks. These works are associated with residential developments further along Otley Road.

I understand that there are reports of water quality problems in the Beckwith Road area. Investigations will take place which could result in additional roadworks.

For that reason, the resurfacing of Beckwith Road, scheduled for this month, will be delayed until next March.

Whilst this is unfortunate, a brief delay is preferable to having a newly resurfaced road dug up again shortly afterwards.

North Yorkshire County Council will be introducing a Permit Scheme in February 2018 under which utility companies will have to apply and pay for permits to work on the public highway.

The current arrangement requires utilities only to notify the Highways Authority of their intention to work on a road. The new scheme will give the County Council much greater control over such works, and the ability to impose penalties for failing to comply with the conditions of the permit.

In addition to this new scheme, the County is now taking core samples of reinstated road excavations to ensure that the work is of the required standard.

Previously, only visual inspections were carried out. By taking a core sample poor quality work will be revealed, in which case the contractor will be required to do the work again and better.

NYCC is one of the very few councils carrying out such inspections in-house.

NYCC contractors continue to carry out a lengthy programme of highways repairs. Lancaster Park Road is one of the latest projects being completed over three Sundays in order to maintain access to the District Hospital.

Drivers will have noticed that the bus stop opposite the Royal Hall on northbound Ripon Road has been moved a few metres further away from the busy junction with Parliament Street. This apparently simple piece of work has involved relocating the raised kerb, changing the guard rails in place and altering the road markings. Buses stationary at the bus stop should now be well clear of the nearby island allowing even large vehicles to get past.

Following last month’s Transport Talk article, which dealt with parking matters in Harrogate town centre and residential estates, a report has been prepared by NYCC highways officers.

This reveals that countywide the parking permit scheme costs taxpayers £123,000 a year to run, based on a permit price of £16 in Harrogate (there are small cost variations in other areas). There are currently some 30 requests for new or amended residential permit zones, which are all on hold because of lack of funding. Additional revenues would allow for these to be considered and possibly be introduced.

The £16 price in Harrogate has remained unchanged for 10 years. The national average permit price is £64 with the highest prices in major cities exceeding £300 per year. Prices in towns in shire counties are lower than in metro cities and vary between £24 and £81 per year.

A decision on this is imminent.

As I prepare this article for submission to the editor, I receive the excellent news that the NYCC bid for funding for transport improvements in the Otley Road and West of Harrogate area has been successful. The total value of the various schemes is £4.6m.