North Yorkshire will be able to carry out its biggest ever programme of highway maintenance works, thanks in part to millions of pounds in additional Government funding.
The County has been allocated a total of £52.6m by the Department for Transport (DfT) to improve roads, pathways and cycle routes and carry out infrastructure projects.
This represents some £3.9m in extra money when compared to the amount the County Council had expected to receive to fund its plans.
The announcement from the Government is part of its £1.7bn Transport Infrastructure Investment Fund, which aims to help every area in England outside London.
In North Yorkshire, it will mean that, as and when lockdown measures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic are eased, the County will be in the best possible position to help people get back to work and assist in the recovery of the economy.
As part of plans already drawn up, more than 500 individual schemes are set to be delivered, covering coastal, rural and urban areas.
- £5.7m of patching projects
- Just over £10m of surface dressing
- More than £17m of resurfacing
Locations include Gristhorpe Bypass, Filey, Leeds Road in Harrogate and several locations in Richmond.
Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We welcome this additional funding from the Government, the second largest amount in Yorkshire as a whole.
“As England’s largest county, there are thousands of miles of footpaths and highways for us to maintain and this will allow for significant investment in our infrastructure.”
All the works will be undertaken while observing the Government’s social distancing measures aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“A lot of work is being carried out currently in rural areas where social distancing is much easier to achieve than say in the more congested urban districts,” said Cllr Mackenzie.
“The Council and its contractors are fully aware of the guidance regarding Covid-19 and members of the public can be assured that the safety of our employees and residents is paramount.”
The money will be used to benefit all areas of society.
“Every time we fix a road or a footpath, walkers, cyclists and motorists benefit,” Cllr Mackenzie said.
“Highways improvements are for everyone and not just for those who drive cars.
“Well maintained roads are essential for a prosperous economy, the emergency services require them as they go about their duty saving lives – everyone across the County relies on them to one degree or another so this funding is very welcome.”
Earlier this week, the Government announced a £250m emergency active travel fund - the first stage of a £2bn investment aimed at delivering improvements for cycling and walking such as wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.
Full details of how much will be allocated to each local authority are yet to be revealed, but Cllr Mackenzie said: “We are already working on proposals with regard to this funding and hope to have more information in the near future.”
In addition to these investments in highways and footpaths, the authority is continuing to upgrade the county’s cyber infrastructure.
The Council’s £15.1m Local Full Fibre Networks deployment, which will bring gigabit connectivity to most public buildings in the county, is well underway, while procurement of Phase 4 of the Council’s superfast broadband project has just started.