YORK’S congestion levels could almost treble and cost the city £104 million a year by 2026 if money for major transport schemes is not found.

A fresh analysis of how the city’s growth will increase the strain on its roads has driven home the importance of building three new Park&Ride sites and getting other gridlock-busting projects off the ground.

The Press’s Get York Moving campaign is urging residents and businesses to back York’s case for Government funding to allow the first phase of the Access York scheme to go ahead in the face of stiff UK-wide competition.

City of York Council’s local development framework working group was told that delays across the city could almost double by 2021 and soar again by 2026 unless the Park&Ride facilities and the final piece of the James Street link road can be completed within six years and other infrastructure is improved.

Principal transport planner Ian Stokes’ report said York’s congestion bill might leap from £37 million a year to £104 million during this period if there is insufficient future investment in transport infrastructure and other transport measures.

It said “behavioural changes” aimed at reducing car use would require “significant investment” in public transport.

Coun Steve Galloway, the council’s executive member for city strategy, said a key priority was the further development of Park&Ride, which was the ideal strategy to intercept commuter and tourist journeys.

“Although the report indicates that, without investment in the transport system, congestion could get worse, what would be more likely to happen is the busy peak period on the network would continue to get longer as people make work journeys earlier or later,” he said.

“However, there is a limited amount of road space available in the city and further population growth, without corresponding investment in transport, could stifle its prosperity.”

Coun Dave Merrett, Labour’s new spokesperson for city strategy, said improvements to York’s “very poor” bus services were essential and the council needed to “think outside the box” and seek new sources of funding to pay for transport improvements.

Green councillor Andy D’Agorne claimed assumptions in the projections depended on the continuing unsustainable use of resources and took no account of the impact of the need to massively cut consumption of fossil fuels.

He said large scale migration was more likely with climate change, particularly unless more resilient local economies were developed which did not depend on economic growth and global capital.

Transport projects estimated costs

• Improving all roundabouts along the Outer Ring Road: £35 million.

• Dualling all or part of Outer Ring Road: Between £100-200 million. Previous estimates said it could be as much as £264 million.

• Set-up costs for freight centre: £5 million.

• Expanding cycle network: £13 million over ten years.

• Improving public transport services: Had been £30-41 million over ten years; but now £16 million over ten years.

• Tram-Train system (currently being trialled in South Yorkshire): About £120 million.

(according to figures going before City of York Council’s Local Development Framework Working Group)