LEAVE your car at home this weekend or risk ‘carmageddon’. That’s the warning to the people of York from council bosses as preparations begin to finally demolish Queen Street Bridge.

The bridge will be closed throughout the weekend, from 8pm this Friday to 6am on Monday. The station car park will also be closed.

It’s all to allow vital preparation work for the following weekend when, between 8pm on Friday April 26 and 6am on Monday April 29, the bridge itself will be demolished.

The aim of the demolition is to open up space in front of York Railway Station as part of the York Station gateway project

It will ultimately allow for the transformation of the road layout in front of the station, council bosses say – making it better for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.

But they are warning there will be major traffic disruption in the city centre on both of the next two weekends - and are urging people to 'plan ahead',  leave their cars at home and find other means of transport if they aim to head into town this weekend or next.

Trains to and from York will be running as usual on both weekends - and local businesses and the station will remain open, the council stresses.

However, the main station car park will be closed to cars. And council bosses warn every car on the road will simply add to the congestion.

“We need to keep the city moving, and free up the roads for blue lights, blue badges and others who really need them,” said the council’s transport boss and deputy leader Cllr Pete Kilbane.

“So if you’re coming into town and don’t absolutely need to use the car, leave it at home.

“Get the bus, walk, cycle, or use the Park&Ride. Because if people don’t change their behaviour, there will be gridlock and carmageddon.”

York Press: Cllr Pete KilbaneCllr Pete Kilbane (Image: Supplied)

Council bosses stress that, while it will take until November for contractors John Sisk & Son to complete work on the new road layout in front of the station once the Queen Street Bridge has been demolished, it should only be the next couple of weekends when there is significant disruption.

That’s because a temporary road has been built, running through the station car park, which will allow the inner ring road to remain open even while the job of transforming the road layout in the area around the demolished Queen Street Bridge is carried out.

The temporary road will be tarmacked and will have two lanes and the same capacity as the Queen Street Bridge – so longer term disruption should be minimised.

It is the next two weekends council bosses are most worried about.

They have prepared mitigation measures to reduce the impact of the inevitable disruption to traffic.

Normal bus routes will be diverted, but a free shuttle bus running every 15 minutes will be laid on over both weekends, running from Blossom Street to Nunnery Lane, Rougier Street, Station Rise and back.

York Press: Work underway outside York Railway StationWork underway outside York Railway Station (Image: Haydn Lewis)

The station front will remain open throughout the work and, on the second weekend when Queen Street Bridge is actually demolished, some of the rubble from the demolition will be stored on site rather than all being taken away immediately, so as to minimise disruption on the roads. Eventually it will be taken out of the city down Tadcaster Road.

Motorists who would normally have used the station car park and who absolutely need to drive into York will be directed to other city cars park, such as Marygate or Nunnery Lane, instead.

There will be some short-term pain, Cllr Kilbane admitted. But in the long-term, it will be worth it.

Demolishing the Queen Street Bridge will open up the front of the station, creating far more space for a better-integrated public transport system and improving the experience for those on foot or on bikes.

York Press: CGI showing how the area in front of York Railway Station may look once the work has been completed following demolition of the Queen Street BridgeCGI showing how the area in front of York Railway Station may look once the work has been completed following demolition of the Queen Street Bridge (Image: Planning)

It will be a ‘huge operation’, Cllr Kilbane admitted. “But it is happening. It has been much talked about, but now the bridge is coming down.

“Once it’s all over the public realm will be fantastic, and the views of the city ramparts towering over you will be amazing.”

The Station Gateway scheme is being delivered in partnership by City of York Council, Network Rail, LNER and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The contractor for the highways works is John Sisk & Son.

For information on the Queen Street Bridge project, closures and diversions, go to: www.york.gov.uk/StationGateway  

For more information on bus services and shuttle buses, go to: www.itravelyork.info/bus-route-diversions