COMMUNITY leaders say potential options costing between £17m and £63m are being explored to stop a town being choked by traffic as protestors campaign for an overall strategy.

Northallerton resident Tony Webster has warned the town is being brought to a standstill because of the chaos caused by railway level crossings at either end which mean the road is blocked for four and half hours out of every 24.

He added: "Heads need to be banged together, we need joined up thinking Northallerton Town Council, North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton need to be working together along with our MP and the railway authorities to find solutions."

MP Rishi Sunak called a special summit with local authorities to examine solutions in 2017 and said work is ongoing.

He added: "Since the Low Gates summit, talks have continued with key partners about the issue. In 2018, North Yorkshire County Council commissioned a major piece of work investigating the various options for closing the crossing at Low Gates and providing an alternative route for traffic across the railway line.

"That report identified the potential costs of five options for either bridges over, or a tunnel under, the rail line or the building of a connection to the North Northallerton Link Road.

"The cost estimates for the options vary between £17m and £63m. Some of the options are clearly not feasible but others require further work and investigation. Along with the county council and other parties, including Network Rail, I will continue to press to find a solution."

The new link road with a bridge over the railway line is being built as part of the new North Northallerton development of 900 homes between Darlington road and Stokesley road. It's understood local authorities are waiting to see what happens when the new road opens later this year and whether that takes any pressure off the congestion.

But Mr Webster added: “They’ve already said the new road will be traffic neutral because of the number of new houses and the extra cars that will bring. We need blue sky thinking this has been an ongoing problem for years and it’s just getting worse.

“We see the new link road roundabout on Darlington Road has a side road to nowhere and it would be interesting to see if this is part of a possible new relief road for the town. It really is time to put all efforts into this. The daytime traffic through Northallerton can often be backed right up, it must be having a very damaging effect on industry."