Information about the county council's plans to reroute the A59 at Kex Gill.

Current A59 Kex Gill road land movement issues

The A59 Kex Gill road is currently open under traffic light control due to recent land movement issues. Please see the bottom of this page or our facebook and twitter feeds for the latest updates.


Consultation on A59 re-alignment proposals

Kex Gill has a history of landslips and instability, over the years there have been many unplanned and costly closures of the A59 at Kex Gill, with the most recent closure occurring in May this year when a crack appeared to be opening up in the highway at Kex Gill. Road closures at Kex Gill cause an inconvenience not just for users of the A59, but for those in the surrounding towns and villages through which traffic is required to make a six mile diversion.

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). 

 The A59 route in context (jpg / 167 KB).

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In 2016, we began detailed work on developing options to address the issue of landslips and instability on the A59 at Kex Gill. Following guidance from the Department for Transport, an Options Assessment Report was produced which contained 16 options (these options can be found below under the development of options for A59 relocation at Kex Gill).

Following the appraisal of the 16 options, a number of the best performing routes (based on their ability to address the issues of resilience, connectivity, reliability and safety as well as their fit with national and local transport policy) were collated in to what was formally known as the ‘consultation corridor’, below.

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You can view a  view a large version of the consultation corridor here (jpg / 159 KB).

We held a first stage public consultation event in Autumn 2017 at locations in Harrogate, Skipton and Norwood. Members of the public could also view the consultation material and provide comments online, via post or email. The consultation events were attended by over 300 individuals, and a further 300 online response were received. Over 90 per cent of responses supported the need to do something at Kex Gill.

Following the consultation event, work has been continuing to further refine the options for the best possible alignment. Extensive ground investigation work has been carried out in the area, and ecologists are regularly on site carrying out required environmental surveys in line with the UK and European legislation. The survey work has identified that a previously discounted option needed to be brought back into consideration, due to the fact that it significantly reduces the impact on the very important protected landscapes (Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area and Site of Scientific Interest). The previously discounted option does still fall within a section of the previous consultation corridor, however it is now anticipated that the scheme will begin from North Moor Road and follow the bridleway to the east before dropping down and re-joining the A59 close to Hall Lane. See this  key sensitivities plan (pdf / 1 MB) for more details.

Proposed preferred route

A proposed preferred route has been developed following the results of the ground investigation works and extensive liaison with environmental, geotechnical and highway engineering specialists.

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You can  view a larger image here (jpg / 9 MB) or a  high quality PDF version here (pdf / 1 MB).

Based on the work undertaken so far this represents the route the County Council believes achieves the best balance of meeting the aims of the scheme, minimising the impact on the environment and reducing the impact on landowners and local people. It therefore forms the starting point for more detailed discussion and refinement with landowners and other important interested parties.

KEXGILL-WSP-GEN-FS-DR-CH-0000-Model_small.jpg

You can  view a larger image here (jpg / 4 MB) or a  high quality PDF version here (pdf / 9 MB).

KEXGILL-WSP-HML-FS-DR-CH-0902-SMALL.jpg

You can  view a larger image here (jpg / 6 MB) or a  high quality PDF version here (pdf / 3 MB).

Discussions have already commenced between the scheme designers and some key local stakeholders with a view to understanding day to day business and operations. These discussions will assist the team in producing the final detail of the preferred proposed option.

Give us your views

The consultation is now closed.

All responses will be noted and considered. The proposed preferred route will be considered by the county council's executive at a meeting on 24 July 2018. If the executive approve the route then a period of detailed design liaison with landowners, stakeholders and the government will follow, with a view to starting work on site in spring 2020.

Previous consultation on A59 re-alignment proposals

A consultation on our proposals for the re-alignment of the A59 at Kex Gill closed on 31 October 2017. Supporting information can still be viewed below.

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). 

 The A59 route in context (jpg / 167 KB).

Figure1.JPG

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 location of recent landslips on the A59 (jpg / 262 KB).

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Recent landslips

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.

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.

 The sixteen potential route options (jpg / 249 KB).

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 The routes grouped into eight corridors (jpg / 247 KB).

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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.

 Appraisal of corridors against objectives (jpg / 131 KB).

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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".

 The consultation corridor (jpg / 159 KB).

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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.

Kex Gill updates

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