Government confirms £56m for new carriageway at landslip-prone A59 between Harrogate and Skipton
The government has confirmed £56million to build a new carriageway around a major road between Harrogate and Skipton which has repeatedly been hit by landslides.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today announced the funds to overhaul the Kex Gill section of the A59.
Landslides have caused major disruptions on the route for years and the project will see the construction of a new carriageway, meaning traffic will no longer need to use the existing section of the road.
There have been five major landslips at Kex Gill since 2001, with one incident closing the road for eight weeks.
Construction of the new route will be led by North Yorkshire County Council which will also contribute another £4million.
County council leader Carl Les said: "The confirmation of funding is an important milestone towards bringing this much-needed project to fruition.
"The A59 is a vital east-west connection and a continuing priority for the county council. It is essential for the prosperity of businesses within North Yorkshire and the wider region that this route is safe, reliable and resilient.
"The current road, with its history of landslips and resultant closures, cannot guarantee those things, so we urgently need this realignment.”
National conservation bodies RSPB and Natural England had raised concerns over the carriageway project, as well as minerals company Sibelco.
Natural England said construction of the road could cause significant damage to endangered wildlife and conservation areas, while Sibelco argued it would threaten the future viability of valuable minerals.
Planning officials at North Yorkshire County Council said the impact on the landscape and wildlife was acknowledged, but extensive planning had not found a better way to re-route the road.
Subject to final approvals, the government said construction of the new 2.5mile stretch could begin by this autumn.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “I know that residents have been frustrated by frequent road closures at Kex Gill caused by landslips in the area. Our funding will go a long way towards addressing those problems, making journeys more reliable for people travelling between Harrogate and Skipton.
“As a government we’re committed to levelling up across the country and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic – improving transport infrastructure in the North is absolutely vital to both of those ambitions.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter