A new six figure traffic survey for Harrogate has been commissioned, the Advertiser can reveal, as it emerges that the district’s booming economy is set to grow by £330 million in the next five years.
Harrogate’s economy is on the up, with an estimated 13,500 businesses, employing 95,000 people, Harrogate Borough Council’s (HBC) strong local economy plan has found.
However new transport infrastructure is essential for business growth, the council said, as Harrogate’s roads once again ground to a halt this week to allow for roadworks.
Traffic surveys are set to be carried out this spring to allow for this further growth and motorists will be quizzed about their journeys at busy junctions.
“It is a significant piece of work,” said Coun Michael Harrison (Con, Killinghall), cabinet member for planning.
“This is not just a desk-top piece of work, it is going to be very thorough.”
The traffic modelling, jointly commissioned by HBC and North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is being undertaken as part of the district’s new local plan.
“It needs to be updated so that when we are assessing new developments we can be confident,” Coun Harrison added.
The district’s choked up road network is affecting business growth, the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership has said.
Harrogate’s Chamber of Trade and Commerce has called on HBC to concentrate more on the road network and said it is too focused on pedestrians and cycling.
“You can’t do business on a bike. You can’t deliver goods and run a business only walking or cycling, there needs to be more focus on the road network.”
Meanwhile NYCC has apologised for the traffic chaos which blighted the districts roads earlier in the week.
The authority this week began work to install a new traffic island and Toucan crossing to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the Claro Road junction on Skipton Road.
It is hoped the traffic island will create a safe crossing, particularly for cyclists taking the cycle path into town.
However, the work - which was initially due to last eight weeks and be completed in March - caused disruption on the busy commuter route, leading the council to issue an apology through its Executive Member for Highways.
County Coun Gareth Dadd said: “These junction improvements are very necessary to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians crossing the very busy A59 at this point.
“The improved signalling and road layout have been designed to have the minimal impact on traffic flow while making life a good deal safer for the many who have to cross this junction on foot or by bicycle. We understand that this construction work is causing significant congestion and I apologise on behalf of the county council for the inconvenience caused.”
Working through weekends should allow the work to be completed by the middle of March, one week early.
The work also includes an upgrade of traffic signals, an improvement to the junction layout with advanced stop lining for cyclists and resurfacing of Claro Road down to Devonshire Place.
Three - way temporary lights are in operation for the duration of the works, though these will be manually operated during peak times (7.30am-9.30am and 3.45pm - 6.30pm) to improve traffic flow.
Coun Dadd added: “The A59 into Harrogate is very busy along Skipton Road at all times and there is never a good time to undertake construction work of this nature.
“We will do everything possible to mitigate these problems and seek to complete the work as soon as possible.
“We also intend to undertake the resurfacing element of the project at night as this is the least disruptive to traffic.”
The project is part of the county council’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund programme which is jointly funded with the Department for Transport.
Coun Rebecca Burnett, Harrogate Borough Council Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport said: “These are essential works as we look to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. The traffic island will make crossing much safer and easier and therefore help to encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport in the town.
“The disruption to traffic in the meantime is regrettable.
“Once the work has been complete everyone, including motorists, should see the benefits. We can assure those affected by the temporary disruption that everything possible is being done to finish the work quickly.”