HUNDREDS of miles of North Yorkshire’s roads are in need of maintenance to bring them up to standard as highways chiefs warned improvements to the county’s transport infrastructure are vital to the future of the economy.
The poor state of large swathes of the county’s vast roads network is revealed in draft transport plans published by North Yorkshire County Council.
It shows 27 per cent of the 4,000 kilometres - about 671 miles of a total of 2,485 miles - of unclassified roads need maintenance while seven per cent of the B and C road network, which cover a total of 3,400 kilometres (2,112 miles), also needs work.
The document says: “For many years the county council has prioritised the maintenance of the higher category, busier roads in the county but inevitably this has resulted in the lower category quieter roads deteriorating more quickly.”
It adds: “The relatively poor condition of the minor road network tends to have a greater impact on the remoter, more sparsely populated rural areas of the county and is one of the contributing factors to the poorer economic performance in these areas.”
The county has long complained that the Government funding it receives to maintain roads fails to recognise the challenges it faces in looking after a huge rural network. It is expecting to receive about £30m a year for the next five years but estimates that keeping all the area’s roads in good condition would cost around twice as much.
Coun Don Mackenzie, the council’s executive member for highways and public transport, said: “North Yorkshire has one of the largest transport networks in the country, spread across a vast largely rural area.
“The wellbeing of our residents and the economic future of our region, of its towns, market towns and villages, of its industry, its tourism, its cultural and heritage development, all rely on transport networks that are fit for purpose.
“This new plan sets out that purpose and takes the long view as well as setting out short-term aims.”
The stark problems facing North Yorkshire’s roads are set out in a draft transport plan for the next 30 years which reveals the county’s intention to prioritise tackling congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough, Scarborough, Northallerton, Malton and Norton, Selby and Ripon.
It also warns that poorer transport links to parts of the county, such as the coast and parts of Craven and Ryedale, are having a detrimental impact on their local economies and there are major challenges to better connecting them to the rest of the transport network.
The draft plan says: “The scale of the problems means that solutions (such as upgrading roads to dual carriageway) are expensive costing tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds.”
It identifies the stretch of the A64 between York and Scarborough, the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton and the electrification of the York-Harrogate-Leeds railway line as key improvements. A public consultation runs until the end of this month on the draft plan before it is finalised and comes into force next year.