Today’s government announcements on major improvements to the road network will attract mixed reactions in York.
Included is a pledge to “grade separate” the Hopgrove A1237/A64 junction. This means that fly-overs will replace the roundabout (which was itself subject to an £9 million upgrade only 5 years ago).
However, those hoping for the A1237 to be dualled will be disappointed and traffic, at busy times, having avoided the Hopgrove bottleneck, will immediately face continuing congestion on the remainder of the A64 trip to the coast.
Hopes for the A1237 seem to rest on the devolved funding made available to the, increasingly aloof, Leeds based “West Yorkshire Combined Authority”.
Reports last week suggested that funding for larger roundabouts is the extent of their ambitions.
Labour are planning a “surprise” announcement next month, when they will “reveal” that they will spend an additional £2 million on highways resurfacing during the next financial year.
Highways expenditure Click to enlarge
The announcement will be in response to the pressure, put on them by residents and the Liberal Democrats, who have criticised the cuts made in road and footpath repairs budgets over the last 2 years.
In total, £4 million has been cut from the repairs budget in an attempt to find funding for schemes like the repaving of Kings Square and the, largely unnecessary, £1 million street lamppost replacement programme.
Now Labour – for one year only – hope to return the budget to the £5.5 million level that they inherited from the last LibDem administration.
However, they intend to pay for the programme by borrowing more money. Already residents are facing over £1 million a year extra in interest payments – making Council Tax rises inevitable.
The figures also reveal that investment on de-icing roads and footpaths has fallen by more than half since Labour took over. Fortunately we have – so far – had a mild winter but we may not be so lucky in future years.