The long-promised conversion of a stretch of the A64 road into a dual carriageway, between the Hopgrove roundabout near York to Barton Hill, has suffered another delay. Although the scheme was included in the Government’s Budget, and development work will commence, the A64 will have to wait until at least 2025 before a shovel is put into the ground. The £300m upgrade is now projected to take place in the period 2025-30.
Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill said: “When Highways England did the detailed work they realised it would suck in more traffic and they would have to do the other junctions as well which pushed it into the next price category.” This means that several junctions will have to be furnished with flyovers to allow traffic to safely leave and join the upgraded road. Hence the delay to the overall scheme.
Getting traffic quicker and easier to the coast is one thing, but it has to go hand-in-hand with improvements in the coastal towns themselves. It is reasonable to ask what steps are being taken to accommodate the traffic once it arrives at the coast. Parking is a big issue in Filey. Residents should be able to go to work, or play, and have a reasonable chance of finding a parking place on their return. At the moment that is often not the case, particularly around The Beach, The Crescent, Rutland Street and Brooklands. It would perhaps be appropriate if the work on the A64 ran concurrently with a residents parking scheme?
The announcement comes after years of campaigning led by local MPs. In particular Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill and Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Holinrake. Upgrading the A64 was first mooted in 1989 when the Department for Transport put forward proposals to dual the A64 from York to the then new Seamer bypass, however plans were scrapped in 1995.
Of course, connecting the coast is about much more than road transport. Improving mobile and broadband connectivity is arguably more important. Additionally, the rail links have improved in recent years, Filey now enjoys an hourly service between Scarborough and Sheffield. In May the much-promised half-hourly Scarborough-York service will be introduced. Connections between those trains and the coastline at Seamer is particularly important, as is improving the poor facilities at Seamer station.
The campaign group, the Campaign for Better Transport, argued against making the A64 a dual carriageway, pointing to the fact that new roads attract more traffic and thus we become trapped into a cycle of ever expanding road provision that can never match demand. The group said that instead of dualling the A64, stations at Haxby and Strensall should be opened alongside increased line speeds.
Connectivity to the coast has to be seen in its widest possible context. Hopefully, that will allow places like Filey to continue to be a highly attractive place to work, visit and live.