The Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass has led to a reduction of almost half in the amount of traffic through bypassed communities, as well as improving the travel times.
The 4.8km bypass linking the A684 north of Bedale and the A684 east of Leeming Bar opened in August 2016. Main construction had begun in February 2015 and the bypass opened two months early and within its £34.5m budget. The road is used by more than 7,000 vehicles each day.
The bypass was intended to achieve three main goals:
- to reduce traffic congestion in the bypassed communities;
- to reduce environmental and road safety problems in and on the approaches to Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming; and
- to improve access from the A1(M) to communities west and east of the A1.
A study comparing findings from before the opening of the bypass with 12 months after the opening finds that the road has achieved all its objectives.
Traffic on the former A684 route has reduced by up to 47 per cent. Journeys using either the bypass or the former A684 route have seen shorter travel times, with savings of up to five minutes on the bypass. Access from the A1(M) to Leyburn and the Dales to the west has improved, with savings of five minutes. Access from the A1(M) to Northallerton has been improved to a lesser degree, with savings of under one minute.
Accidents on the former A684 route fell by two thirds in the year following the opening of the bypass, compared to the year before construction.
Monitoring shows an overall improvement in local air quality and a net reduction in noise levels. Reduced traffic and improved average speeds along the former A684 have resulted in lower fuel consumption and therefore lower CO2 emissions.
The number of businesses in the A684 area increased by ten per cent between 2014 and 2017, indicating a positive impact on the local economy. In particular, there has been a two-thirds increase in medium-sized businesses from 15 to 25.
County councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for highways, said: “Local people had waited a long time for the bypass, so I’m pleased that the this report shows that the new road is bringing the benefits residents and road users wanted to see.
“The bypass is an excellent example of the County Council’s commitment to improving transport connections across the region, particularly east to west. We were confident it would make a positive difference to residents, businesses and visitors and the findings of this study indicate strongly that this difference is being felt.”
County councillor John Weighell, member for Bedale, said: “Local people watched the bypass take shape over 18 months and embraced it upon its opening. It was clear from the start that it would benefit business, improving access to Leeming Bar Industrial Estate, open up easier access to the Dales for visitors, and improve road safety and the environment for people living in Bedale, Leeming Bar and Aiskew. I’m glad to see this report confirming those benefits.”
Monitoring of the impact of the bypass will continue over the coming years.