WORK to build a much anticipated £12 million rail bridge and link road, which is designed to end decades of congestion in a county town, has suffered further delays.

North Yorkshire County Council has revealed the North Northallerton route over Brompton Beck and the Middlesbrough-to-Northallerton railway line, between Darlington Road and Stokesley Road, was now scheduled to open early next year.

The setback follows several setbacks for the scheme following it gaining planning approval in 2015, amid Hambleton councillors’ pledges that work would begin on it the following spring in response to a barrage of objections over plans to build a large estate in the area.

Work on the three-span structure and link road started in April 2017 and excitement built in the town after a sign was erected stating it would open in spring 2019, before developers announced it would not be complete until the following spring.

Last October, the county council said the opening was likely to be in autumn of this October, but a meeting of its Richmondshire constituency committee heard the project would be hit by further delays, following “a shaky start”, due to ground conditions and Covid-related work restrictions.

After the meeting, the committee’s chairman, Councillor David Hugill, said: “It will be good to get it over the line whenever it comes and I would ask for residents’ patience.

“We can’t make it go any faster, we have to stick with it as it’s going to make a big difference. It’s an intricate bit of work as it’s got to work around a busy railway line and construction work being done off-site. It’s something Northallerton badly needs and it will be exciting when it’s done.”

Members heard the scheme was making good progress, with the embankments completed and work underway on the bridge.

Councillors were told given the national shortage in construction materials, it was a major boost that the bridge’s beams had been ordered and were being fabricated off-site.

The constructors also have booked numerous extra overnight slots with Network Rail to place the beams over the railway in an attempt to avert further delays as wet or windy weather could prevent the work on some days.

A council spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, the programme has slipped. What we’re being told at the moment is completion of the bridge and the road over the embankment is looking at January 2022.”

She added there was efforts were ongoing to try to bring the completion date forward to late this year.

The spokeswoman said: “Once the bridge, road and embankments are completed it will not mean instant opening of the route. We’ve got to do the safety checks of the full route before it is opened. There will be a delay before the route is opened to full traffic.”

The council’s highways team is set to review signs around the county town to ensure the new route takes the maximum amount of traffic, and especially HGVs, out of the town centre, and in particular away from the Friarage Street congestion hotspot.