A FEASIBILITY study looking at what could be done to improve safety at a notorious Skipton road junction and which could result in a new roundabout is underway.

County council highways engineers closed the right Embsay and Easby turn off the A65/A59 bypass last year as a trial and have now made it permanent. Drivers heading from the direction of Skipton along the bypass towards Harrogate have to go to the roundabout at Skibeden and double back on themselves if they want to make the turn onto the A6131.

They are now carrying out a feasibility study that could result in a new roundabout at the junction, which has seen a number of fatal accidents in recent years.

North Yorkshire County Council also carried out a consultation on the junction and whether people thought the temporary changes had improved safety.

In 2017, local resident Susie Storah started an online campaign to get changes at the junction after 20 year old Edward Brier died after being involved in a collision. Mrs Storah also started a petition which was signed by 6,200 people.

The county council says it hopes to be able to report the outcomes of the study early next month and in the meantime is progressing on making the current arrangement at the junction more permanent and has introduced extra measures after some drivers continued to make the right turn.

David Kirkpatrick, traffic engineering team leader, said the intention of the study is to consider all feasible options for a ‘major intervention’ at the junction and not just a roundabout.

“It is also important to understand the purpose of this study is not to make any recommendation on what action to take or provide justification for it. It is to apprise the county council as highway authority of what options exist, their respective feasibility and constraints and to provide indicative costs.

“From that information, we will be able to take an informed decision on any further works which can be reasonably be progressed.”

He added the decision to make permanent the temporary arrangement of cones and barriers, which has been in place for more than a year, was because it was not considered appropriate to put the junction back to what it was. It was also not right to leave the temporary arrangement for longer than necessary.

“Even if it were decided to introduce a roundabout or other major intervention, it would likely take 18 to 24 months to develop the business case and take it through the necessary design and governance processes, prior to its construction. Whilst it is accepted the trail arrangement is not an absolute solution, it does deliver some benefit, so it is worthwhile investing in these changes,” he said.

He added the council was aware of some drivers taking the chance of making a right turn instead of going to the roundabout, and that surveys had been carried out to take a measure of the ‘potential issue’.

“It was observed that whilst it does occur, they were not significant in number. It is however undesirable and amendments to the cones and barriers have been implemented throughout to deter this behaviour.

“It is intended to use bolt down kerbs on that part of the junction which will allow the radius to be amended if required to make it more prohibitive or a deterrent to drivers attempting that movement.

“Unfortunately, such movement are not uncommon at quieter times, on roads which have similar junction arrangements. Given the layout of this section of the A65, it’s not possible to extend the central reserve sufficiently to entirely prevent this movement from occurring.”