It’s slow and it’s choking our city’s growth.
That was the damning verdict of York Outer MP Julian Sturdy on the outer ring road.
In a debate in Parliament on transport infrastructure in York, hosted by Mr Sturdy, the Conservative MP said the average journey time from the Hopgrove roundabout to Askham Bryan is now more than 30 minutes.
That means this stretch of road has an average speed of 20mph, despite being governed by the national speed limit of 60mph.
In the last six years traffic has increased by 10% – and the pressure on the road is set to increase after major housing developments to the north of York, and the York Central ‘teardrop’ site.
Mr Sturdy claimed dualling the northern outer ring road (A1237) would cause a “regional economic surge”.
The Local Majors Fund is currently considering a £1 million bid by City of York Council to dual the A1237, which frequently slows to a crawl.
‘Acting as a noose’
“Simply put, the congestion on York’s outer ring road is acting as a noose on the city – it is choking growth and disincentivising inward investment,” Mr Sturdy told MPs.
The impact on Clifton Moor business park was clear. “Many buildings are now sitting vacant as businesses no longer see it as an attractive place to relocate and shoppers are choosing to go elsewhere.”
In 2013 the road was described as a “car park” by then Prime Minister David Cameron.
During the debate transport minister John Hayes said: “He [Mr Sturdy] made an important point about housing development and I do think, bluntly, that we as a government need to do more coordinating policy.”
Mr Hayes did not go so far as to publicly support investment in a dual carriageway but did praise the York Outer MP for “powerfully” describing the situation in his constituency.