MULTI-MILLION-POUND plans to upgrade York's outer ring road have been backed by regional transport bosses.

A committee of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) today endorsed the inclusion of the A1237 works in a £1 billion transport fund.

York's leaders hailed the decision as a significant step forward and said it paved the way to securing £37.6 million to upgrade the route, through improvements to roundabouts, however concerns have been raised that repeated changes to roundabouts will reduce the likelihood of the whole road being dualled.

Design work is being undertaken with the WYCA and consultation will begin when funding is confirmed. Subject to funding being available in spring 2015, City of York Council expects construction of the next roundabout upgrade to begin in 2016.

Cllr James Alexander, the departing leader of City of York Council, said: “Today’s decision represents a significant move forward in the economic ambition for this city. It’s the next key step in securing and progressing funds to upgrade York’s Outer Ring Road.

"I’ve been working cross-party with political colleagues in the region and nationally, and this demonstrates a clear benefit of being in the combined authority and the benefits of working together across council borders to progress schemes."

York Press:

Cllrs James Alexander (left) and Chris Steward

Chris Steward, leader of the council's Conservative opposition, said "piecemeal" upgrades could diminish the chances of the A1237 being dualled.

He said: "We would want to see the whole thing dualled and grade-separated. People also shouldn't think it's wonderful that we are getting money from West Yorkshire because it's a big pool of money that we are paying a lot into."

Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “Progressing 21st Century transport infrastructure such as the York outer ring road scheme is at the heart of our strategic economic plan for the Leeds City Region.

"By enhancing the city centre environment and improving traffic flows within and around the city, schemes such as this will encourage regeneration and business investment and enable us to reach our growth potential.”