Investigations are continuing into the cause of movement of the A59 at Kex Gill following the closure of the road last Wednesday.
North Yorkshire County Council’s specialist contractors are on site assessing the extent and nature of further detailed geotechnical investigations that are needed to determine the exact cause of the movement and the best solution to get the road reopened. These further, more detailed investigations will supplement the assessments that were carried out immediately after the road was closed last week and will be completed as soon as possible.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We do fully understand the disruptions caused to local residents and businesses by this closure, but the safety of the travelling public is our primary concern, so it’s essential that the A59 remains closed at Kex Gill while these further investigations are carried out.
“A top priority of the county council is now to fix this problem and to reopen the road as quickly as possible.
“Most people will be aware that realigning this stretch of the A59 to provide a permanent solution is integral to our transport strategy for the county and this work is well under way.”
The A59 is an important trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate, but has a history of instability and movement of the land above the road to the west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill and there have been numerous landslips. Realigning the road at this point to the other side of the valley is part of the County Council’s strategic transport plan to improve east to west connections between the east coast and Humber ports and Lancashire.
A public consultation on proposals for this realignment was held last autumn. Feedback from that consultation has been analysed and proposals for a preferred realignment of the road will go before executive councillors shortly. After that, a business plan will be drawn up to enable the County Council to bid for government funding with the hope that work could start on site in 2019/20.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley, Member for Pateley Bridge division and a member of the Kex Gill steering group, said: “Kex Gill has always been a challenge in its current form, narrow and twisting, especially for large vehicles. I know that this current closure, as with those in the past, will have an impact on businesses along the route and communities that link with the road. As the current situation indicates, the land stability will not improve, so it is imperative the new route goes ahead as speedily as possible.”
During the current closure, the diversion route for traffic going east from Skipton or west from Harrogate follows the A65, A660, A658 and A61 via Ilkley and Otley.
The County Council has put ambassadors in place twenty-four hours a day on the local road network to help people to follow the correct route. They will do everything they can to maintain access for local traffic, but it is important that motorists heed the signs. Ambassadors will direct commercial vehicles and through traffic away from local routes.