The government is facing calls to name a definite date for long-awaited schemes to cut congestion and improve safety on one of the North’s most notorious stretches of road after Highways England admitted any major works are “not yet on the drawing board”.
A North Yorkshire County Council meeting heard almost two years after the Government announced a £300m upgrade of the A64 between York and Scarborough would be among schemes to be considered for funding after 2025, potential improvements remain clouded by uncertainty.
The calls for clarity come two months after HIghways England started gathering residents’ feedback over options to create a dual carriageway on the A64 between Hopgrove Junction and Barton-le-Willows.
Last year it was announced a final proposal would be submitted to the Department of Transport for consideration alongside 32 schemes across the country, with a final decision expected in 2024.
However, a meeting of the authority’s transport, economy and environment scrutiny committee heard fears time was running out to meet the deadline.
Councillors expressed surprise that £8m of improvements – such as drainage work, resurfacing and junction improvements – had been unveiled last year, but no mention had been made of A64 schemes to bypass Rillington, dual the road north-east of York or “long overdue” changes at Golden Hill, Malton.
‘Worst accident record’
Highways England area manager Paul MItchinson told the meeting there were A64 safety schemes concerning average speed cameras and seven road-side refuges for pedestrians which could be installed by 2024.
Mr MItchinson said: “We do have safety schemes on the board at the moment to improve safety of the existing, but no I must concede as things stand my understanding is that the major schemes are not yet on the drawing board.
“As things stand there is nothing on the cards for Rillington bypass at this time.”
Councillor David Jeffels said talks had been ongoing about improving the A64 throughout his 40 years as a councillor, but the time had now come for the government to give a definite date for the works.
He said the government needed to commit to “proper engineering work rather than tinkering” to address the route’s poor accident record.
Councillor Jeffels said: “Even if an early go-ahead was given for the dual carriageway you’ve still got land acquisition, probably compulsory purchase of land and it being designed, so you are talking about two years at least to get the scheme approved on paper.
“I think we are being fobbed off. There is a growing feeling that if this road had been in the south of England these improvements would have been done quite a long time ago. Successive governments have recognised there is a need for it but it hasn’t been followed up with finance to carry out the work.
“We keep being told it’s on the drawing board, but there’s just no sign of any improvement. The A64, I think it’s fair to say, must now have the worst accident record of any major road in the north of England.
“In the past year the A64 has had a very substantial and distressing figure of fatal accidents and it is hitting the economy in Ryedale and on the Yorkshire coast because people are facing daily long queues between Malton and York.”