Highways England is drawing up plans to improve congestion on a six-mile stretch of the A64 where the road narrows to two lanes between the Hopgrove roundabout and Barton le Willows, and a funding request is due to be submitted to the Department for Transport next year, after a public consultation is carried out.
Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, who has been calling for the road to be widened so there are two lanes running in each direction, believes the Government will make a decision by 2024 and “spades should go into the ground within five years”.
Mr Hollinrake said the bottleneck is having a “huge economic impact” on the region as a lot of people are “deterred” from travelling between York and the east coast for work and tourism.
He said: “That road carries twice the amount of traffic – on average and not just at peak times – that is recommended for a single carriageway. It is way overdue for dualling.
“We’re expecting a report to be compiled with route recommendations, probably by this time next year, which will go to Ministers. Then a decision will be made in the context of other projects in the region and nationally.
“We’re hoping a positive decision will be taken in 2024.”
He added: “If it’s given the go-ahead, it has to be done between 2025 and 2030.”
The Conservative MP said he is optimistic about the project, because the formula the Government uses to make decisions on major investment projects has “changed dramatically”.
He said: “The ‘Green Book’, as they call it, which used to favour southern projects over northern projects has been changed, so it should mean a lot more money is spent in the north and the Midlands. That should make it easier to deliver this project.”
A Highways England spokesman said plans to improve that stretch of the road and upgrade Hopgrove roundabout are being prepared to “to tackle problems with congestion” and “make sure it’s fit for the future”.
He added: “This scheme is one of over 30 that we’re considering around the country, as part of a steady and flexible pipeline of schemes.
“We’ll be considering these for potential construction beyond 2025, but currently there’s no commitment from Government to develop this scheme beyond the current stage.”
Sections of the A64 in North Yorkshire will be upgraded as part of an £8m project, which is due to begin this summer.