Kex Gill to reopen in six weeks - or sooner

Highways officials, councillors and politicians at the site of the A59 closure.

Highways officials, councillors and politicians at the site of the A59 closure.

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North Yorkshire County Council will do “everything in its power” to re-open the A59 at Kex Gill earlier than its six-week target, according to the authority’s highways chief.

The county council was forced to shut the major route, which runs between Harrogate and Skipton, on January 5 after heavy rains caused substantial cracks on the slope.

Engineers identified a substantial flow of water at the top of the area of instability and work began on Monday to install a temporary solution to drain the water away.

The works are expected to take around six weeks to complete, however executive member for highways Coun Don Mackenzie said he was hopeful the timescale could be reduced.

He said: “We have contractors working on the hillside at Kex Gill seven-days-a-week in order to get the work done as quickly as possible. They can’t work 24-hours-a-day because it’s an unsuitable area.

“The suggestion is it will take six weeks but the message I want to get across to the public is we will do everything in our power to get the work done earlier and we are hopeful that we can reduce it.”

Coun Mackenzie stressed the authority’s long-term aim was to reroute the A59 away from Kex Gill as it “wasn’t suitable for a major transpennine route”.

The closure of the A59 at Kex Gill has seen motorists, including hauliers transporting goods between Harrogate and Skipton, face diversions of up to 10 miles, with many taking shortcuts on rural roads, causing additional delays, highway damage and safety concerns.

Businesses have also taken a hit due to the loss of passing trade, residents have been left feeling cut-off as a result of roads being closed and diversions through Otley and Illkley are causing congestion in the towns.

Summerbridge resident Nick Milnes, who regularly uses the A59, normally travels along North Moor Road, however this has been closed off.

He said: “I can fully appreciate the situation with the A59 and the council can’t help that, but to cut off the whole of the Nidd Valley by closing the road that hasn’t got a problem isn’t fair. Why should residents have to suffer?”

Coun Mackenzie said North Moor Road had been closed for safety reasons as drivers were using it as a diversion and the road was too narrow to cope with HGVs and the increased volume of traffic.

He said: “I have sympathy with what Mr Milnes says, but the roads aren’t suitable for the volume of traffic that would seek to take a detour that way.”

Coun Mackenzie and highways officers were due to attend a public meeting at Millstones restaurant, at Felliscliffe, last night to provide residents with more information and give them a chance to air their views.