Angry motorists frustrated that nothing has been done to prevent a major road being closed by flooding are calling for action before an accident happens.

In the past few months, Morton-on-Swale bridge on the main A684 road from Northallerton to the A1, Bedale and the Dales has been closed four times as floodwater from the swollen river swept onto the carriageway.

The latest problems came over Christmas, closing the road for a day and a half, and forcing many drivers to go via Langton Bridge, near Yafforth, where the narrow back road has been badly affected by overuse.

North Yorkshire Council says special signs have been put up and there has been a feasibility study into how the flooding could be relieved, but there is currently no money available to do the work.

Bettina Howard, who lives in Northallerton and works in Bedale, said it is happening more and more. She added: “It’s extremely frustrating, going the Langton way is going to cause an accident as the roads are very narrow and it becomes very busy.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bridge at Morton-on-Swale, near Northallerton

“Lots of people commute from Northallerton to Leeming industrial estate or Bedale. North Yorkshire Council never update the road closed information until later in the day, people travelling to work need this information before setting off. The bridge isn’t the problem, it’s the road north of the bridge where water goes onto the road from the field, so the road should be raised up.”

There has been overwhelming concern on social media. One resident suggested that better signs could be put up in both Northallerton and Bedale regarding the bridge at Morton, as happens in Thirsk, where electrical boards on Long Street give closure information about Sutton Bank. Northallerton Town Councillor Paul Atkin said he would support asking the town council to push North Yorkshire Council Highways to do that and the issue has been put on the agenda for discussion.

While the flooding affects the road on the Bedale side of the bridge, there have also been problems with the bridge itself which has been badly damaged several times over the last few years by vehicles colliding with the coving and walls. Because it is Grade I listed, complicated repairs have to be carried out using traditional stone and there have been long delays as the work is carried out.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Chaos and confusion at Morton on Swale on the A684

North Yorkshire Council said the watercourse is managed by the Environment Agency, and a feasibility study was carried out in 2020 to explore a scheme to relieve flooding to protect the highway, but there is currently no money available.

Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, who represents Morton-on-Swale, said: “To help alert motorists to flooding on the A684 at Morton Flatts, we installed permanent flip road closure and diversion signs in consultation with local parish councils. They were part-funded from my locality budget.

“The signs are on the A684 on Bedale Bypass and Warlaby crossroads, Northallerton Road in Leeming Bar and on the approaches to Lees Lane roundabout in Northallerton.

“They are opened as soon as possible when the road is closed and provide advanced notification to road users of the closure and the diversion route via the A6055, A61 and A167. We are also considering installing automatic flood signs, similar to those on the A684 in Wensleydale, if funding becomes available.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The bridge at Morton-on-Swale, near Northallerton

“Following all flooding, the A684 and surrounding roads are inspected to ensure there are no safety concerns as a result of the closure. In 2020, the former North Yorkshire County Council completed a feasibility study to explore options for a flood alleviation scheme to protect the highway from flood water.

“We will continue this work, as we appreciate the huge impact the closure of this strategic route has on commuters, locals and visitors.

“At this present time there is no funding available to deliver such a scheme, but the work done this far will enable us to bid for funding opportunities in the future should they arise.”