York is heading for ‘traffic gridlock’ as a series of major road schemes coincide, say the city’s Labour group.
The party’s transport spokesperson Cllr Rachel Melly says the decision to store up multiple road closures for after next May’s local elections could lead to ‘carmaggedon’.
But the transport lead at City of York Council has slammed the claims as an “outrageous misrepresentation”.
City councillors have been told that the planned closure of Lendal Bridge for repairs and resurfacing has been postponed until the new council is elected.
The removal of Queen Street Bridge near the railway station is expected to be put on hold until after the election too.
But that is only part of the picture, says Cllr Melly. She says they are expecting lane closures on
- Water End to accommodate work around the York Central spine road
- temporary closures of Leeman Road linked to the NRM’s expansion
- lane closures on Tadcaster Road to accommodate cycle lanes and drainage works.
all in the second half of 2023.
“The problems this is storing up for the road network are unthinkable and reflect a lack of willingness to do the job the Lib Dem-Green administration is supposed to be in place to do,” Cllr Melly said.
She fears either significant overlap in the works required, or rescheduling some to minimise city-wide disruption, with a corresponding knock-on increase in costs.
Labour group leader Claire Douglas said: “It’s pretty clear that the council has ground to a halt in terms of taking the decisions needed to keep projects and schemes on track.
“Labour has been talking with stakeholders about what we can do if we win power next May to reduce congestion and enable people to move around the city more easily. This will be made unnecessarily difficult with these delays to major roadworks.”
Shocked by claims
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport on the Lib Dem / Green-run council, refuted the claim.
“As I was present in the conversation between officers and York Labour councillors in the cross party briefing to keep all parties informed of major work set to take place next year, I am shocked that after the reassurances given on the programme of works Labour still sees fit to persist in this misrepresentation of the facts.
“During the meeting it was reiterated repeatedly by council officers that the timing of upcoming highway work on major projects which span multiple administrations is determined by a range of factors beyond the council control which the council manages to minimise disruption but take into account those external factors.
“It is outrageous (though not surprising) to see Labour trying to suggest that decisions are being managed to delay disruptive work until after the election.
“There are significant highway works taking place across the city over the next few years, with over £200 million pounds of central Government funds invested in our local highway network, to help deliver York’s future prosperity through major schemes such as York Central and major remodelling to the ‘station frontage’ gateway to York.
“These are being progressed by this administration in conjunction with partners. Works such as Tadcaster Road highway drainage work, station frontage /Queen St Bridge, Marygate resurfacing WILL all be happening early in 2023.
“As a highways authority, the council will regulate the timing of those works to manage the impact on York’s highway network and ensure these projects cause as little disruption as possible.
“As Labour councillors are well aware, the delivery programme of the major works they mention is yet to have a definite timetable being dependent on a range of factors from condition reports, rail operation, flooding, detailed design and traffic management plans.”