A multi-million pound project to improve one of North Yorkshire’s busiest junctions has been completed to help tackle traffic congestion and improve road safety.
Junction 47 on the A1(M) has undergone a major upgrade to boost transport links on both the dual carriageway, as well as the A59 running east to west and serving key destinations including York, Skipton and Lancashire.
The A59 corridor has been identified in Harrogate’s Local Plan as an area of rapid increase in residential and business growth. The major project on the junction began in September 2020 and this week became fully operational.
“This important scheme has the aim of supporting the future growth and prosperity of Harrogate and Knaresborough,” said Barrie Mason, Assistant Director for Highways and Transportation. “We anticipate significant residential and commercial development along the A59 corridor, resulting in many more people using this key link road.
“It has been a huge project, involving the widening of three of the four slip roads onto and off the roundabout to increase capacity, as well as a number of junction improvements. The junction suffers from congestion at peak times so it is a great example of how we are improving east-west connections across the county.”
As well as widening the slip roads, traffic signals have been installed on the roundabout to improve traffic flow and added to the T-junction between the A168 and the A59 a short distance from Junction 47 on the York side to benefit drivers turning onto the A59 and to improve safety.
To the west of Junction 47, between the A1 and the Flaxby roundabout, a lane has been added for traffic travelling east, so there will be two lanes in each direction between those two roundabouts.
This week has seen the new traffic lights switched on for the first time, with traffic management removed and all lanes open. The new traffic lights will need monitoring and adjusting to ensure the timings are at the optimum settings for the traffic flows.
Mr Mason added: “As with all new traffic lights it will take a few weeks to find the optimum settings. Signals on roundabouts are particularly sensitive as there is only limited space so we need to synchronise the lights correctly to reduce queuing.
“Our highways teams will be working tirelessly over the coming days and weeks to monitor the timings and remedy any issues that may arise. In light of this we ask road users for their patience during the final steps of this major improvement project.”
The project has been supported by £2.47m from the government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, along with contributions from the County Council, National Highways and developer Forward Investment LLP.
David Dickson, Chair of the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Infrastructure and Joint Assets Board, said: “This project is a real boost for the York and North Yorkshire economy. By improving east-west connectivity, the much improved junction unlocks the opportunity for further economic growth across the region.”
The challenges encountered on this complex project have increased the cost, which was approximately £10m in September 2021 compared with an original budget cost of £7.7m.
The delays were caused by the discovery of great crested newts as they legally had to be relocated and poor ground conditions on the southbound slip road. During the coronavirus pandemic, operatives had to comply with secure site procedures which also extended the timescale.
The latest estimated costs are the subject of detailed discussions with our contractor and will be publicly available once agreement is confirmed.