YORK could finally get a long-awaited bus interchange under proposals to demolish a major bridge on the inner ring road.

Council officials are examining the idea of demolishing the Queen Street bridge, between York Railway Station and Micklegate Bar, to create an interchange on land below.

Passengers emerging from the railway station would only have to walk a short distance to catch buses to most destinations in York and further afield.

Traffic which currently uses the bridge to progress along the inner ring road would use a new road at the lower level, with a junction allowing buses to access the interchange.

Coun Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s transport cabinet member, stressed that the multi-million pound proposal was at a very early stage, with officers having started a detailed examination of its feasibility and the potential cost benefits only a month or two ago.

He said the scheme might form part of a major capital programme bid for funding from a devolved transport fund which the Government was proposing to set up. “It’s a very expensive proposal, which we couldn’t fund ourselves,” he said.

He said such a development would also need the agreement of both Network Rail and East Coast, which operates the station, and there would be consultation with the taxi trade.

“Such an interchange could have benefits for bus services coming into the city which currently don’t go to the station, partly because of turning difficulties,” he said.

“For example, the Easingwold service turns round at Exhibition Square, which makes it more difficult for us to make better use of the area for pedestrians.

“And the Selby bus stops at Piccadilly and then goes through Coppergate and Clifford Street - an interchange would give such buses the opportunity to go through to the railway station.”

Coun Merrett added  original proposals to build a new access road from the Queen Street bridge into the proposed York Central redevelopment site had been abandoned some time ago.