Residents and businesspeople are being invited to a series of public events at which they can see plans for the realignment of the A59 at Kex Gill and speak to the professionals behind the scheme.
The A59 is a key trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate, but there is a long history of instability in the land above the road west of Blubberhouses. There have been several landslips over the years, which have led to road closures, the most recent in May 2018.
There remains a risk of further landslips, so North Yorkshire County Council developed proposals for a permanent solution, which involved realigning the route to the other side of the valley.
The scheme received strong support during a public consultation last year, after which a preferred route was approved by the County Council’s Executive. Earlier this year, an outline business case was submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT). Following feedback from the DfT, a final business case is expected to be submitted by the end of November. A planning application is due to be submitted in October.
The A59 at Kex Gill passes through the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape is highly valued for recreation. It also supports protected habitats and species and is designated as a nature conservation site. The preferred alignment has been developed taking into account the need to avoid areas shown to be unstable or potentially unstable, balanced with the need to avoid protected landscape. The alignment would run along the northern slope of the gill as a 5.4km single carriageway incorporating climbing lanes for slow vehicles.
The County Council is working towards starting on site in late spring 2020, subject to funding and planning. It is estimated the work would take about 16 months, depending on the final design, so the new road could open during summer 2021.
A series of events has been arranged to enable the public to view the progress to date through the plans and artists’ impressions and to ask questions of the engineers developing the scheme.
The dates and times for the drop-in sessions are:
- Tuesday, 1 October, at Skipton Town Hall (the Hub), 1.30pm to 7pm;
- Wednesday, 2 October, at Humberstone Bank Farm (Yorkshire Water meeting facility), 1pm to 7pm;
- Thursday, 3 October, at The Cairn Hotel, Harrogate, 1pm to 7pm.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We have made very good progress towards securing a permanent solution to the problems caused by unstable ground conditions along the current alignment of the A59 at Kex Gill. We have always made a point of keeping local people informed and involved. These events are an ideal opportunity for people to keep up to date with developments and ask any questions they have for the experts.”
County Councillor Stanley Lumley, Member for Pateley Bridge, added: “The problems experienced in the past have caused significant disruption to businesses and residents of the area and to commuters and visitors using this important east-west route. I’m sure people will be pleased to see the progress being made towards a solution that will remove the risk of similar issues in the future.”