GP Taylor: Jam tomorrow and every day on A64 death trap

IT'S Sunday, 2.45pm, and I have to travel south. I look at my computer to see the state of the traffic on my route. My sat nav has already told me that if I take my preferred route there are significant hold-ups ahead.

Should the A64 be dualled from York to Scarborough?

I look at the red line that gets longer by the minute. As usual, that bit of the A64 at Barton Hill is jammed again. Visitors to the seaside have started to make their way home. The road is blocked. Estimated time delay of one hour.

I take the route from Scarborough to Driffield and then to Howden. One hour and 15 minutes to the M62. A beautiful scenic route, and despite the obsession of Humberside Police to have a mobile cash machine on every long stretch of clear road, I am soon heading out of the county.

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In my travels, I very seldom take the A64. I avoid it whenever I can. It is a road of delays, even at the quietist of times. Strange, that a major arterial route should be so congested. After all, this is the road that serves three of the best holiday resorts in the country as well as a growing service industry. Strange, that any sign of a dual carriageway should disappear at the Rillington bottleneck.

As a local, I know the back routes, those annoying rat runs over the Wolds around the back of Malton. In summer, they are preferable to sitting in a six-mile queue waiting to move a few hundred yards.

How must it be for the villagers who have to put up with this all the time? Sherburn, Rillington and all the other quaint places have thousands of cars per hour rattling through their streets.

What must it be like to have to face all that noise and pollution? What about the effects it has on local businesses and tourism? How many people are put off coming to the coast from Leeds and Bradford because they know they will have to sit in a long line of traffic? What about the lives lost at the many dangerous junctions and corners along the route? How many people have to needlessly die before something is done?

The lack of action on the upgrading of the A64 says to me that the livelihoods and welfare of those who live on the coast matter very little. We appear to be out of sight and out of mind as if we are stuck at the end of a cart track that finishes at the sea.

If the likes of Robert Goodwill MP and others really cared for their constituents, surely they would be campaigning unceasingly for this death trap of a road to be sorted out in this century? It is not rocket science.

The same old arguments are presented time and again. Money, disruption, feasibility studies and not the right time are offered up as reasonable excuses. As a new campaign is launched on Friday, North Yorkshire County Council appears to have forgotten its promise of three years ago that work on the A64 was a priority.

It would be so easy to provide an alternative route to the coast from the current Malton bypass to Scarborough with a new road following the line of the railway. This would keep the road away from the villages and bring the route right to Seamer. It would halve the journey time between Scarborough and York and would increase visitor trade and commercial transport viability.

The upgrading of the A64 at Hopgrove will do little to help those getting to the coast. All this will do is move the congestion further east. Our local MPs herald this as a great advance. Sadly, nothing much will happen before 2023 and the poor people of Rillington appear doomed to suffer for another generation.

All this is too little and too late. We on the coast have been waiting for something to be done for 30 years. It is obvious that we are bottom of the list. Scarborough suffers, whilst Frinton-on-Sea in the South East gets a dual carriageway link all the way to London.

With the prospect of the rail link to the coast becoming nothing more than a glorified branch line, something has to be urgently done. It is disastrous to wait any longer. In the time it has taken the Government to decide what to do, I could have hand dug a canal from York to Seamer. The journey time by barge would possibly be quicker than taking the road.

If this Government takes the people of North Yorkshire seriously, then they should urgently consider a dual carriageway all the way from York to the coast. They can no longer put this matter off as the lives and livelihoods of the people along its route are held in the balance.

GP Taylor is a writer and broadcaster and can be followed @GPTaylorauthor.