Major road works worth nearly £4m are to be carried out in the Harrogate area prior to the Tour de France’s arrival in a move that it is hoped will help boost the local economy.
The proposals aim to ease congestion in one of Yorkshire’s most popular visitor attractions, however motorists were last night warned to expect delays as work gets under way over the next few weeks and throughout the spring.
The spa town will play host to the world’s biggest cycling event and an excited crowd is expected to line the length of the 190km route of stage one from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5, with 27,000 people anticipated to gather roadside along the first 1.5km of the route alone.
Yesterday it was revealed that Ilkley will have its own official spectator hub for the event.
The £4m road investment package was unveiled by North Yorkshire County Council yesterday and includes resurfacing which has been brought forward in advance of the Tour de France.
The improvements will include road resurfacing and upgrades to junctions and traffic signalling. They will also include improved pedestrian crossings and pedestrian links from bus and rail stations to the centre of town, as well as increased cycle storage.
A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire County Council said: “The overall aim is to reduce congestion and improve the travel environment as a key support to the town’s economy.”
The investment includes road resurfacing on the A59 at Goldborough last year and over £2m on projects including signalling and sustainable travel.
County Councillor Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire’s executive member for highways said: “Obviously the Tour de France will provide an enormous boost to the regional economy and we must prepare well for this great event. But overall, the aim is to improve the travel infrastructure in a multitude of ways in order to support the district’s continuing prosperity.”
Much of the resurfacing work will take place in the evening between 7pm and midnight.
“Throughout this time we will make every effort to keep disruption to a minimum. But we urge residents and the travelling public to understand that although there will undoubtedly be some short-term inconvenience, in the long run these works will benefit the town greatly,” said County Councillor Dadd.
By the end of May resurfacing and/or junction improvements will have taken place on a number of routes including: Harlow Moor Road and Palace Road, Ripon. In addition work on the A59 at Kex Gill to help prevent further landslips has begun this week and a series of upgrades to signals and junctions on the A661 Wetherby Road begins in summer.
A programme of improvements to pedestrian and cycle facilities are being funded from a successful bid to the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund. In addition a Harrogate travel website and smart phone application is being developed encourage more people to explore the town by walking and cycling.