New appeals for £23m bypass

Re-think called for on road to ease towns' gridlock Brian Dooks PRESSURE is growing for a £23m northern bypass to be reconsidered to solve severe traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough where the A59 is one of the busiest roads in North Yorkshire.

Although a 22m western bypass was finally abandoned last year, North Yorkshire's area committee for the Harrogate District has insisted that the northern route deserves further consideration. It follows a warning from the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber that the county council should look at shorter options for a Killinghall bypass on the A61 north of Harrogate because it was unlikely funding would be available for the preferred route.

The steering group considering ways of solving traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough had previously decided that the northern relief road should only be reconsidered if non-road building options did not provide a solution. Initial work showed that a northern relief road would only remove between three and 13 per cent of traffic using the A59 through the two towns. Surveys show the rest are vehicles with an origin or a destination within either Harrogate or Knaresborough and would not be helped by a bypass.

But county county chairman Clifford Wilson says congestion is so bad it takes him an hour to drive the 12 miles from home at Grafton, near Boroughbridge, to the centre of Harrogate – twice the time of his 25-mile journey to Northallerton.

Coun Wilson said: "It is completely gridlocked. If that's the way the people of Harrogate want to run the town, I don't want to come into it. It is essential that something is done.

"We had consultants involved in the 1980s and 90s and we could have solved all these problems. All we wanted was the money."

Steve Macare, who represents the area of Harrogate through which the A59 passes, and Bill Hoult, from Knaresborough, both want the northern relief road re-examining. Coun Macare said: "The idea that we should just drop the northern relief road is an absolute nonsense." North Yorkshire's preferred route for the bypass to the east of Killinghall was also intended to replace dangerous sections of the A61, where there have been 145 casualties in the last five years. The bypass, expected to cost 15m, rejoined the existing A61 north east of Ripley.

Possible alternatives include a much shorter eastern route costing 6m and a short western route which would cost 14m because it would have to be built on an embankment across the River Nidd flood plain. The southern end of Killinghall's bypass formed part of the northern relief road, which was planned to start on the A59 at the Travellers Rest west of Harrogate. It rejoined the existing A59 east of Knaresborough at the northern end of the southern bypass – the only section of the orbital route to be completed.

Killinghall county councillor Heather Garnett is resigned to accepting a lower standard bypass for the village. She said: "If we don't support this option we will miss out on getting anything. We need to go with what we can get and not stick with what is pie in the sky."