Congestion reduction is a complex issue and one that is likely to require a broader solution than a single mode response. As public policy and public support has shifted away from focus on road building schemes studies have moved towards multimodal investment. This was well illustrated by the large-scale Harrogate congestion study consultation event in 2019. Over 15,000 responses were received during this consultation, a large proportion of which rejected proposals for a northern relief road in Harrogate but were supportive of further investment in sustainable transport modes. Since then, the Harrogate transport improvements programme (Harrogate transport improvement package) study, has focussed on assessing the improvements that larger scale investment in sustainable transport could deliver, following the government’s guidance on business case development.
Harrogate transport improvement package 1 considered a number of travel corridors in Harrogate and Knaresborough, to try to establish where the greatest opportunities for investment might be, and also what types of investment could be most beneficial. It has been recognised that ultimately, whilst smaller schemes do have a role to play, to deliver more significant congestion reduction improvements investment on a larger scale is needed. However, the costs to deliver such a scheme are high, and far beyond our own funding for schemes. Therefore, the aim of the study process is to develop a green book compliant business case for funding, for submission to government.
At the end of the Harrogate transport improvement package 1 process, it was recommended that development of a multimodal corridor on the A61 Leeds Road would be a good initial focus for further feasibility work. That work is currently underway. The Harrogate transport improvement package 2 study is focussed mainly on walking and cycling provision, junction improvements, bus priority, and park and ride feasibility (this element looks at the wider Harrogate area) along the A61 Leeds Road. The study as a whole is likely to take around 6 months and it is likely that at the end of that process we will undertake further engagement, to understand the public appetite for a major scheme funding submission to the department for transport.