Information about the county council's plans to reroute the A59 at Kex Gill.
The A59, illustrated in context below, provides a very important east-west connection in North Yorkshire, linking Harrogate and Skipton. It provides a route across the north of England, between junction 31 of the M6 and junction 47 of the A1(M).
Background information, maps and diagrams
Below you can find a range of background information, maps and diagrams which form the basis of our proposals.
Due to a history of landslips and instability (illustrated below) which have in the past led to unplanned road closures, the county council has been working to develop proposals to ensure the future resilience of the route.
The most recent landslip was in early 2016 and resulted in an eight week road closure. In the event of a landslip, road users are routed round a six mile diversion through towns and areas deemed unsuitable for the volume and nature of vehicles. The available information suggests the primary cause of these landslips is heavy rainfall, coupled with relatively unstable land on the hillside slopes.
Fortunately to date, although a vehicle has been caught in a landslip, there have been no personal injuries as a result of a landslip at Kex Gill. However, without intervention there continues to be a significant risk that road users could be caught in any future landslip, potentially resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.
Following a review of various engineering studies and advice from technical experts, it has been determined that full stabilisation of the area at risk would require extensive and very substantial engineering works and is unlikely to be practicable or environmentally acceptable. Therefore, the existing A59 or any improvements to the existing highway would remain susceptible to landslip and related disruption. As a result, a new section of the A59 must be created to replace the existing road.
So that we could progress the development of a solution at Kex Gill, the government requires us to create an Options Assessment Report (OAR). This was produced, below, and set out 16 options to be considered and scored.
- Options assessment report - A59 Kex Gill (pdf / 8 MB)
- Options assessment report - A59 Kex Gill - appendix 1 (pdf / 1 MB)
- Options assessment report - A59 Kex Gill - appendix 2 (pdf / 5 MB)
- Options assessment report - A59 Kex Gill - appendix 3 (pdf / 1016 KB)
- Options assessment report - A59 Kex Gill - appendix 4 (pdf / 477 KB)
The 16 options broadly sit within eight main corridors (see illustrations below). Corridors are strips of land within which an alternative road may sit. Within each corridor there are options for the exact route the road may take, but each corridor will have similar characteristics.
Appraisal of the corridors
An appraisal of all the corridors was carried out using an agreed Department for Transport (DfT) approach, in order to assess their merits or otherwise against set criteria (see illustration below). This included consideration of each corridor’s environmental impact, feasibility, buildability (a pre-construction exercise that looks at a design from the perspective of those that will manufacture, install components or any structures and carry out the construction works) and performance against local and national objectives.
The results of the assessment demonstrated the blue, magenta and orange corridors to be the best performing, due to their fit with national and local transport objectives and their significant positive impact in terms of economic growth, wellbeing, and social and distribution impacts (SDIs). They also offered improved resilience, connectivity, reliability and safety and consequently met the specific scheme objectives, particularly in terms of removing the risk of landslip-related closures of the A59. These three corridors also performed best in terms of affordability and demonstrated some of the shortest implementation timescales and the least environmental impact.
The main difference between the blue, magenta and orange corridors is whether they diverge from the A59 at Kex Gill Farm or further east along the existing A59. In order to enable a better understanding of this, further ground condition and topographical surveys will be undertaken in the vicinity of these three corridors. This information will be critical in being able to narrow down the exact alignment of a preferred option.
However, because these three corridors are broadly similar, they have been collated together to form the ‘consultation corridor’ (see illustration below). The consultation corridor can be described as "Starting at Kex Gill Farm utilising the bridleway to take the corridor along the north edge of the Valley beyond where the land slips have taken place to the existing A59 before Blubberhouses".
Why is this scheme needed?
The existing A59 at Kex Gill / Blubberhouses currently suffers from an increasing number of closures as a result of landslips in the area. The southern side of the valley, through which the A59 passes, has a history of landslips resulting in debris falling into the road. This results in the road being closed to allow works to secure the slopes, to clear any debris from the road and repair any damage to the highway. This poses a resilience and safety concern for North Yorkshire County Council. As a result, a new road is required.
Why can’t the road stay where it is?
Due to the unstable nature of the existing ground on the southern side of the valley it is not possible to stabilise the land for the long term, nor will it totally remove the risk of future land slip. As a result there would still be risk of land slips, and therefore of damage, road closures and injury. Therefore, a suitable alternative alignment for the road needs to be sought.
Who is paying for this new road and how much will it cost?
We are in discussions with the Department for Transport about the funding for the scheme. We hope that the majority of funding for the new road will come from central government funding from the Department for Transport, along with a local contribution from us. A cost analysis of all feasible options is currently being undertaken. Current estimates for the costs of the scheme range between £33million and £40million.
How long will the new road take to build?
With current plans, construction of the new road will begin in mid to late 2019 and be completed by the end of 2020.
Does that mean the local traffic in the area will be severely delayed, or forced to make a long diversion, during construction?
The majority of the new road will be constructed without access to traffic, allowing the existing road to remain open during construction. This will reduce the amount of disruption faced by road users and local residents. The tie-in points of the new road to the existing road may require traffic management, but the impact of this will be carefully considered between us and the appointed contractor to minimise disruption and delay.
Has a contractor been appointed?
No. A contractor will be appointed in once the scheme has been further developed.
What will the new road look like?
The new road is likely to be single carriageway in each direction. The preliminary design is being carried out to determine if there is any requirement for climber, or overtaking lanes at certain locations.
I’m worried about the environmental impacts of any new road. What are you doing to minimise the impact?
The area is important and sensitive in terms of environmental and ecological flora and fauna. The project team has already engaged with Natural England, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team and specialist teams with North Yorkshire County Council to fully understand key constraints and restrictions. Environmental surveys have and will be carried out in order to minimise the environmental impacts of the new road. A full environmental impact assessment report will be produced prior to any construction works taking place. By working closely with key stakeholders we will seek to ensure added benefits and value are delivered through the final scheme proposals wherever possible.
Will pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians and other non-motorised users still be able to enjoy the local area?
It is highly likely the new road will run along the path of the existing bridleway. Therefore a new bridleway will be constructed at a suitable nearby location. We will be engaging with the local access forum on the details of this.
Have you considered a low cost option?
Yes, options to maintain the existing A59 have been considered and explored. However, the underlying geology means that risk of landslips would still remain and this option was not taken forward to the next stage.
How long will the new road be?
The new road is likely to be approximately 4.8km or 3 miles in length.
Will the new road make my journey between Harrogate and Skipton any quicker?
Only marginally, a climbing lane is being considered as part of the design. The chief benefit will be journey time reliability and the resilience of the local road network.
Are you planning on making any further improvements to the A59 between Skipton and Harrogate?
Whilst it is recognised there are other challenges on the A59 this scheme is focused on the resilience issues associated with the valley at Kex Gill. Some minor journey time improvements will be likely because of the smoother alignment of the road in comparison to the existing one, but these are only expected to deliver minor savings, and are not the main focus of the scheme.
It is reported that Transport for the North has commissioned a number of strategic transport studies, one of which is looking at the corridor between Merseyside and the Humber Ports. Will it impact on this scheme?
No, whilst related, this is a separate piece of work by Transport for the North which will not affect the progress and development of an improvement scheme at Kex Gill which is being progressed by the county council in discussion with the Department for Transport.
We held drop-in events with staff on hand to discuss the proposals. This included county council project officers and representatives from our consultant WSP’s specialist consultancy team, who have been helping us to develop the proposals.
There was also be a display of plans, and the opportunity to make written and verbal comments on the proposals.
|Skipton Town Hall - Concert Hall||Thursday 21 September||10am to 2pm
3pm to 8pm
|St.Peter's Church Hall, Harrogate||Friday 22 September||10am to 2pm
3pm to 8pm
|Norwood Social Hall, Washburn||Saturday 23 September||9.30am to 3pm|
Gallery of works carried out in 2016
During early 2016, complex and extensive drainage and remedial works were carried out. The images below show some of this work that was carried out.