Council to "push ahead" with Kex Gill plans
7:04am 19th March 2017
North Yorkshire County Council is planning to push ahead with "accelerated preparations" to reroute the A59 at Kex Gill.
It says the Department for Transport recognises the potential for a major landslip and has indicated that a realignment programme would be a strong contender for cash from its resilience funding pot.
In order to take advantage of any potential funding, the authority has agreed to speed up preparations for the scheme, attempting to fit a programme which would normally take six years into three.
Kex Gill, which runs across high ground between Skipton and Harrogate, is a major regional cross-Pennine route carrying nearly 9,000 vehicles per day.
Due to the instability of the hillside, there is a significant chance of a major landslip which could close the road for a long period of time.
The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed on a number of occasions after landslips, but early in January 2016, it was closed as an emergency after significant movement and substantial cracks were detected on the hillside following heavy rain over Christmas.
It remained closed for nearly two months to enable complex and extensive drainage and remedial works to be carried out.
A road closure at this point takes traffic on a long diversion into already congested towns along the A65 through Ilkley, the A660 through Otley to Pool-in-Wharfedale and the A658 to Harrogate.
County Council officers say they've been meeting with senior officials from the Department for Transport to discuss the Kex Gill scheme.
North Yorkshire's cause for the A59 has also been backed by Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon.
He said: "It is fantastic to see that North Yorkshire County Council is forging ahead with plans for this essential scheme to improve the A59 at Kex Gill.
"This stretch of the A59 is vital for the local area and I was extremely concerned about how much disruption was caused to local residents and businesses by its closure last year.
"I will continue to do everything I can to support the County Council as it works with the Department for Transport to maintain progress on this exciting scheme."
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire's Executive Member for Highways, added: "Pushing ahead at this accelerated pace will be challenging for us. However, we must be in a position to bid for the Government funding which could progress such a scheme and so we will pull out all the stops to get the project ready to go.
"We know how utterly crucial it is that the A59, a major east-west arterial route, is fit for purpose, and so we will do everything we can to bring about this much-needed realignment.
"Moreover, we are very grateful to Julian Smith for his hard work in raising this pressing need for the A59 realignment with the DfT."
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