Possible upgrade for A64 road to coast

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ONE of the area’s most dangerous and congested A-roads may at last be in line for an upgrade after the Government pledged to look “favourably” upon a future bid for Whitehall funding.

Roads Minister Stephen Hammond told MPs that “given the [safety] record” of the A64 between Leeds and the north-east coast, he is “convinced” it will succeed the next time Government money for road improvements is up for grabs.

The state of parts of the A64 have long been a bone of contention for motorists and tourists from Leeds heading for the coast, as well as for businesses based in Scarborough, Whitby, Filey and other resorts.

The road includes long stretches of single carriageway which become overloaded with traffic in the summer months, as well as a number of dangerous junctions.

Speaking in the Commons, North Yorkshire MP Anne McIntosh told Ministers it was time to upgrade the “extremely congested and highly dangerous” road.

She demanded the A64 receive funding through the Government’s ‘pinch-point’ scheme, designed to target key bottlenecks around the country which are holding back economic growth.

The Government has made a series of ‘pinch-point’ funding announcements over the past 12 months, with money allocated to improving junctions on the M1, M62 and M18 motorways in Yorkshire, as well as the A1105 in Hull and A614 at Goole.

Mr Hammond told MPs that talks are now under way about an extension to the scheme in the Government’s next spending round – which begins in April 2015 – and made clear the A64 is likely to be in line for significant works.

“We are in discussions on how further tranches [of funding] will work,” he said. “I am convinced that given the record of the A64 — one of the criteria is safety — it will be looked on favourably.”

The A64 is a trunk road and so maintained by the Highways Agency rather than local councils in Yorkshire.

Local authority leaders along the east coast say it must be improved to allow the local economy to expand.

Jim Dillon, chief executive of Scarborough Borough Council, said: “As the main route into Scarborough from the west of the country, used by businesses, residents and visitors, the borough’s economy is heavily reliant on the A64.

“We would therefore welcome any consideration the Government is able to give to improving it.”

After many months of delay, the Highways Agency finally began work last month on improving one of the A64’s most dangerous junctions, at Barton Hill, near the turn-off for Castle Howard.

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