The delays to the completion of the A1 upgrade are “very bad news” for Richmond’s economy, a senior councillor has warned.
Highways England revealed earlier this month that the work on the Leeming to Barton stretch was behind schedule, partly due to the large amount of archaeological finds unearthed and because of issues with utility cables.
The scheme will be completed by the end of the year, with the southern section between Leeming and Catterick Central expected to be finished in late summer.
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However, Richmond councillor Stuart Parsons said the roadworks were having a major impact on Richmond.
Cllr Parsons said traffic was diverted being through Richmond when the A1 was closed for work to take place or because there was an accident – a claim rejected by Highways England which said traffic was not diverted through the market town.
The councillor said: “The recent announcement that works to the A1 will finish at least six months behind schedule is very bad news for Richmond.
“When traffic is diverted it makes it impossible for local people to access the businesses in the town.
“Visitor numbers are also down because of the difficulties experienced on certain days in gaining access to the many attractions on offer in Richmond.”
Cllr Parsons added that the town’s roads, verges and footpaths had been devastated by the volume and weight of traffic being diverted from the A1 through Richmond.
“NYCC failed to secure any funding from Highways England to carry out the essential repairs to our local network which continues to be hammered,” he added.
“B&Bs, hotels and holiday cottages are also facing issues with unhappy customers unable to sleep through the traffic noise.
“A good review is read by a maximum of 10 people – a bad review will reach and influence hundreds.
“A further six months delay on the A1 will have consequences for yet another tourism season and damage the town’s economy.”
In response, Highways England said that traffic was not diverted from the A1 through Richmond.
A spokeswoman added: “To enable us to safely carry out a major upgrade of the A1 between Leeming and Barton we have to temporarily close sections of the road.
“We aim to keep disruption to a minimum so do this when there is least traffic, for example overnight. We work closely with North Yorkshire County Council to select diversion routes suitable for the type of traffic which uses the A1 and encourage drivers to follow the signed diversions. These do not include Richmond.
“The A1 improvement scheme will create a continuous motorway-standard route between London and Newcastle, including the M1 and A1(M), which will also improve journey times and increase safety.”
A North Yorkshire County Council spokesman said: “The County Council is working with the A1 upgrade team to minimise both the number of road closures needed and the impact of those closures.’’