The news that the A64 is to benefit from a transformational investment and get its fair share of £15bn of transport money announced last week is terrific news for the local economy.
The notorious junction at our end of the York bypass is the single biggest (and most expensive to fix) problem for traffic travelling to the coast from the A1 and West Yorkshire. It is also a bottleneck in the westerly direction despite the switch to dual carriageway and indeed the botched and inadequate £9m attempt to solve the Hopgrove junction issue under the last government, in many peoples’ experience, only made matters worse.
The fact is that the A64 announcement is one of the biggest projects in the pipeline for the whole north of England. The budget is in the band £100m to £250m. (To put this into perspective, the new Tyne tunnel cost £260m). This is the first big investment on the A64 since the 5 mile Malton bypass was opened in 1978 at a cost of £8.2 million. We are now also experiencing additional traffic pressure from York itself with the Monks Cross shopping development including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer etc, new housing and the York University Science Park. Teesside traffic from the A19 which is Scarborough bound also has to come this way. This work will create a major intersection and allow through traffic to overshoot the junction.
This is the successful culmination of a 10 year campaign on my part but I also recognise that local councillors and business leaders have also done their bit in making the case. This section was my number one priority and also a priority for businesses that rely on the A64 to transport goods such as frozen products and steel.
Now we all need to engage in spreading the good news and delivering the clear message that we are finally tacking the infrastructure problem that has been holding back economic development here on the coast. As this project is being scoped and planned, we need to maximise the impact by making sure that the extension of the dual carriageway eastwards from the new junction goes as far as possible.
What is really disappointing is that on the very day we should have been capitalising on better and more reliable journey times to the coast, the BBC ran a story that was not just misleading but actually completely wrong. I know that those who were asked to comment when asked for their reaction to “nothing” for the A64 are very concerned at how our supposedly independent national broadcaster could have got things so wrong and provoked unfounded reactions. I have been assured that the BBC are looking into what went wrong.
I think we can allow ourselves a little celebration over Christmas but in the New Year the real work starts to ensure that this money is spent to maximum effect.
Robert Goodwill MP
Scarborough and Whitby