Kex Gill too steep for main road

A firm date of when the A59 will reopen has not yet been given.
A firm date of when the A59 will reopen has not yet been given.

North Yorkshire’s highways chief has spoken of his frustration over the closure of the A59 at Kex Gill - an area he has deemed “unsuitable” to house a main road.

Coun Don Mackenzie, the county’s council’s executive member for highways, said the authority’s long term aim to build a bypass, which would divert traffic away from the A59, still remained.

The new road, which would be located further north, would be more suitable to cope with the volume of traffic and would provide a safer, alternative route for motorists.

He said: “The A59 at Kex Gill is not the sort of topography you really want to put a main road through.

“Our long term aim remains to divert the A59 to a much more suitable and less sloping route.

“However that’s a substantial piece of work that will require millions of pounds and we are asking central government to consider our request because the A59 is a principal east/west route.”

North Yorkshire County Council was forced to shut the major route on January 5 after recent heavy rains caused substantial cracks on the slope caused by slippage and movement.

On Tuesday it emerged that a substantial flow of water had been at the top of the area of instability and geotechnical engineers had been carrying out further studies with a view to diverting the water.

A firm date of when it will reopen has not yet been given.

Coun Mackenzie said: “The diversion that has been put in place is taking motorists into West Yorkshire through Otley and Ilkley, which have had their own flooding problems. It’s not ideal. It gives us a big incentive to get the road open as quickly as possible.

“It is also costing the council a substantial amount of money to keep the road closed. “However our number one priority is the safety of the highways users and if a landslip was to occur while the road was open it would be a major incident.”

The road has in the past been affected by landslips in bad weather as it runs across high ground between higher moorland between Skipton and Harrogate.

Coun Mackenzie added: “Rest assured that everyone at North Yorkshire County Council is totally focused at getting reopened as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so.”

l Turn to page 8 for more on the A59 closure