The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since last Wednesday evening, following reports of 'signs of movement.' Following initial assessments by engineers contractors have been called out by the county council to carry out 'geo-technical investigations' to determine the cause and how the road could be reopened.
North Yorkshire County Council Executive Member for Highways, Coun Don Mackenzie 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.”
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The key trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate has a history of instability and movement of the land, above the road to the west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill. There have been numerous landslips, the most recent occurring in 2016.
NYCC's strategic transport plan calls for realigning the road at this point to the other side of the valley. They say this is part of attempts to improve east to west connections between the east coast and Humber ports, and Lancashire.
A public consultation was held last autumn on the potential realignment, and the feedback is due to go before before executive councillors. A business plan will be drawn up to bid for Government funding, with an aim to start work in 2019/20.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley (Pateley Bridge), 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.”
Diversions are in place while the road is closed, with traffic going east from Skipton or west from Harrogate following the A65, A660, A658 and A61 via Ilkley and Otley.
Council Council ambassadors are in place twenty-four hours a day on the local road network to help people to follow the correct route. They will direct commercial vehicles and through traffic away from local routes.