Roadworks and closures create traffic chaos

Temporary traffic lights at New Bridge. Picture by Duncan Atkins
Temporary traffic lights at New Bridge. Picture by Duncan Atkins

Residents have been hit with more delays than usual over Bank Holiday weekend.

With only three main roads in and out of Whitby, traffic chaos was created with roadworks and the swing bridge closure.

Roadworks on New Bridge caused huge tailbacks in both directions, towards Scarborough and Teesside due to temporary traffic lights reducing the road to just one passable carriageway.

To add to the disruption the swing bridge, the only other bridge link in Whitby, was closed over the Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday August 25 to Monday August 27.

Local residents and business owners took to social media to show their frustration at the decisions which inevitably created pandemonium in the town.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council, said: “North Yorkshire County Council apologises for delays and disruption experienced by residents and visitors to Whitby last weekend.

“This was due to emergency roadworks carried out under temporary traffic signals on behalf of Yorkshire Water to repair a burst on the 250mm water main that crosses New Bridge on the A171.

“The Yorkshire Water works were being undertaken without notification to the County Council at the same time as the council shut the swing bridge, as it had on previous busy tourist weekends.

“The County Council closed the swing bridge to deal with the large number of pedestrians in the town over the weekend. During busy weekends the swing bridge can be overwhelmed by pedestrians.

“This leads to vehicles pushing their way through the crowds. In addition, vehicles cannot clear the bridge during the green phase of the traffic signals, which leads to traffic from the other direction setting off and meeting oncoming vehicles on the bridge among pedestrians.

“In the past, this has led to scenes of conflict and resulted in vehicles driving on the footways to pass each other.

“The extreme edges of the swing bridge cannot withstand significant vehicle loading, so the closure of the bridge to all vehicles is put in place to protect the bridge as well as pedestrians.

“For emergency works, Yorkshire Water only has to notify the local highway authority by 10am the following working day, so their activities were within the legislation. However, given the location, we would have expected the traffic signals to have been manually controlled. The county council has discussed this with Yorkshire Water.”

The swing bridge reopened on Monday evening and emergency work on New Bridge has now also been completed.