Transport Talk with Don MacKenzie

Damage to the crash barriers at Kex Gill.
Damage to the crash barriers at Kex Gill.

The Department for Transport confirmed recently that the County Council’s bid for transport improvements for Otley Road and West Harrogate had been successful. Together with contributions from NYCC, HBC and developers, the total scheme package amounts to £4.6m.

The transport upgrades (and target start dates) include:

l Junction improvements on Otley Road including smart signal controls, extra traffic lanes and better pedestrian crossings (March 2018)

l Off-road cycle route along Otley Road between Cardale Park and Prince of Wales roundabout, to encourage sustainable travel to and from work, and to provide a safe link segregated from motor vehicles to important destinations within Harrogate (July 2018)

l Sustainable transport facilities at Cardale Park, including EV charging points (May 2019)

l Road improvements between the A61 at Buttersyke Bar and housing and employment areas to the west of Harrogate (December 2019)

l New roundabout at Leeds Road/Burn Bridge Lane junction to improve safety and reduce queuing (May 2019)

This award is made from the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund and is designed to raise the efficiency of the road network in an area of residential and commercial growth.

Three further highways schemes are about to be progressed:

A significant report comes to the NYCC Harrogate Area Committee next week outlining options to reduce congestion including sustainable transport measures and a Harrogate Relief Road. The County Council’s consultants have spent several months talking to key local groups and individuals, and their report has now been published.

The Area Committee is a consultee and will be asked to give its views at its meeting on 7 December on the proposed options to progress towards bid stage.

Consultation on a diversion of the A59 at Kex Gill concluded at the end of last month.

More than 600 responses were received, over 90% in support of re-alignment of this important trans-Pennine route.

A few replies expressed concerns for the environment, whilst others added that climbing lanes were essential.

The County Council has ordered detailed surveys to establish ground conditions and environmental constraints along the chosen corridor. An HGV struck the crash barriers at Kex Gill last month. The impact was so severe that the ground underneath the barrier supports gave way. Work to rebuild the retaining wall and replace the barriers is currently underway.

The Bond End Steering Group met last week to receive an update on the air quality improvement scheme to cut NO2 emissions at this complex junction in Knaresborough. A decision on the way forward will be made shortly and work will start in the New Year. This scheme will be completed by March.

In response to concerns about disruption from organisers of the Harrogate Christmas Market and other businesses, NYCC highways officers and I met Northern Gas Networks managers at the excavation site at the bottom of Parliament Street on 6 November. During gas mains replacement works along King’s Road, a 24-inch mains running from north to south along Ripon Road and Parliament Street was discovered and found to be leaking. NGN said this was the main gas supply pipe for the town centre originating at the gas distribution depot at New Park and dating back to early last century. Special fittings had to be manufactured to seal the system.

We agreed a challenging timetable for completion on 14 November, two days before the start of the Christmas Market.

NGN were true to their word and I pay tribute to the efforts of their staff.

Superfast North Yorkshire, the County Council-owned company set up to provide superfast (>24Mbps) broadband to some 200,000 business and domestic premises, which would not otherwise receive the service from the commercial market, will announce in the next few days the winner of its Phase 3 contract worth up to £33m. This latest stage of the expansion programme is expected to take superfast coverage to 95%.