MOTORISTS have been reassured that the A64 Bilbrough Top flyover scheme will not lead to a repeat of the chaos suffered during roadworks at Copmanthorpe.

The Highways Agency says two lanes of traffic will be maintained on both carriageways during most of the work at the junction, situated halfway between York and Tadcaster.

Limited lane closures might only be needed at night-time, well outside of peak driving periods, during the installation of the bridge.

A 50mph speed limit will be maintained throughout the work to help keep conditions safe for roadworkers.

The A64's last big roadworks, when an underpass was being constructed at Copmanthorpe, caused massive jams to build up in the autumn of 2001, with major knock-on congestion problems on many roads in York and nearby villages.

The problems were caused by the dual carriageway being reduced to one lane for long periods - restrictions which can mostly be avoided at Bilbrough.

The flyover, which will allow a dangerous gap in the central reservation to close, was given the go-ahead by Roads Minister David Jamieson earlier this week. The 15-month project will start in January.

News of the decision has been welcomed by local Selby District councillor Brian Percival, who has long been concerned about deaths and injuries at Bilbrough Top, which is North Yorkshire's worst accident blackspot.

But he expressed deep reservations about a massive increase in the cost of the scheme, from the original estimate of £4.5 million to £11 million.

Mr Jamieson said the big increase was one of the reasons he had to scrutinise the proposals so carefully, to ensure the scheme still represented good value for money. He said he was happy that it did.

Selby MP John Grogan has said the agency should look at the increase in costs to ensure such problems did not arise again in future with other projects.

But Mr Percival said the figures should be scrutinised, perhaps by auditors, to discover why the cost to the taxpayer had risen so much.

Updated: 11:57 Friday, October 31, 2003