Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP and Roads Minister, Baroness Vere have promised to speak urgently with Highways England about the proposed dualling of the A64 following my meeting with them, alongside my parliamentary neighbour, Robert Goodwill MP.
The ministers have promised to review the situation in the light of Highways England’s failure to take into account the expected increase in traffic volume following the proposed dualling of A1237 ring road which joins the A64 at Hopgrove roundabout.
Time is running out if the much needed A64 improvements are to be included in the Department of Transport’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS-2), which is expected to be announced in November. Mr Goodwill and I, along with the A64 Growth Partnership Group, which includes Local Enterprise partnerships, NYCC and Ryedale District Council have repeatedly made the case to Highways England that its current assessment of the value for money for the improvements does not fully allow for future developments. This includes the upgrade of the A1237 ring road, which would significantly increase traffic levels at that section of the A64 in addition to higher volumes already expected from housing developments and increased business activity according to Highways England’s own calculations in its A64 Hopgrove Feasibility study. We have asked them urgently to review its business case but we are still waiting for Highways England to report back.
I am due to meet Highways England in mid-October alongside four of my Yorkshire colleagues, including Robert Goodwill MP (Scarborough and Whitby), Julian Sturdy MP (York Outer), Nigel Adams MP (Selby) and Greg Knight MP (East Yorkshire), for an update on the progress of the review and the expected outcome.
Overall, the meeting was very successful. I am grateful to the new Secretary of State and Roads Minister for taking this hugely important matter up so promptly. Put simply, we do not have a moment to waste. The Department of Transport is expected to announce its transport investment priorities in the Autumn, so it is clearly imperative that all the necessary business case reviews have been completed well before that date so that the Transport Department is left in no doubt about how important these much needed improvements are for the region. If we fail, we could have to wait decades for another opportunity.
We have been campaigning for years alongside the A64 Partnership group for a dual carriageway on the A64 between Hopgrove and Barton Hill. It would transform the economic fortunes of Ryedale and the East Coast and make a massive difference to millions of drivers using the road whether it is for business, leisure or commuter purposes. Without them, the delays will simply worsen.