North Yorkshire County Council’s leader, Cllr John Weighell, has signalled the start of construction work on the Bedale bypass in an official sod-cutting ceremony.
The first element of the works will be the construction of the roundabouts at each end of the scheme. It is expected the road will open to traffic in autumn 2016.
The construction contract for the project was awarded to Wills Bros Ltd in August 2014. Since that time the contractor has been completing the detailed design, discharging planning consents and carrying out preparatory works to facilitate the construction phase, including carrying out archaeological investigation of a Roman Villa which is affected by the route.
Funding approval for the scheme was granted by the Department for Transport in July 2014. The DfT will contribute up to £29.2m, with the County Council funding the remaining £5.4m.
The Bedale bypass will be approximately three miles long, from Northallerton Road, on the eastern outskirts of Leeming Bar, to a new junction on the A684 near Bedale Golf Club.
It crosses the A1(M) approximately at its midpoint, where it will connect with the recently completed junction as part of the Highways Agency’s A1 Dishforth to Barton upgrade.
Traffic flow on the existing road is approximately 14,000 vehicles a day, which causes considerable congestion in the market town of Bedale and in Leeming Bar and Aiskew.
The county council estimates that the bypass will cut traffic flow through the urban area by half. In addition, it will reduce environmental and road safety problems, improve access to the A1(M) for local communities, and improve access to Leeming Bar industrial estate.
“The Bedale bypass has been long-awaited and will greatly reduce congestion in Bedale, as well as Leeming Bar and Aiskew, “ said Cllr Weighell, who is also local member for Bedale. “ We are very pleased to mark the start of the works this week. Work will begin with construction of the roundabouts at each end of the scheme and obviously this will cause some disruption, but our contractors will make sure that this is kept to a minimum.”