Consultation is set to launch next week over potential route options for the multi-million pound re-alignment of the A59 at Kex Gill.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) will ask residents which of four routes they would want the key trans-pennine route to follow for consultation which begins on Monday, September 11. The stretch of road is at risk from potential landslips due to unstable land to the west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill, the most recent occurring in 2016.
At a meeting of the County Area Committee for the Harrogate District last week, NYCC Executive for Highways, Coun Don Mackenzie emphasised the need to identify a route following the wide spread problems caused by the incident last year.
Coun Mackenzie said: "The A59 when closed in 2016 caused an enormous amount of problems, not just here but across in West Yorkshire as drivers made their way through areas such as Ilkley.
"We have to also consider our colleagues there, but also the businesses who contacted members of the council complaining of the effects this had on their businesses.
"There is a lot to be taken into account on the need to improve Kex Gill so we never have to go through something of that kind of closure again."
Originally 16 alternative options had been considered, the remaining four now make up a corridor which starts at Kex Gill Farm that follows the bridleway along the north edge of the valley beyond where the land slips have taken place. It then returns to the existing A59 before Blubberhouses.
The current cost estimate for the project ranges between £33 to £40 million. During the meeting optimism bias, an allowance used by the government when assessing the case for a transport scheme, was touched upon and due to the early stages of the scheme faced an uplift of 44 per cent. As work progresses this bias will reduce, but currently it was noted there remains a small risk the cost of the scheme could reach as high as £57 million.
Businesses across the A59 at Kex Gill Corridor have welcomed the news of a consultation on re-aligning the road, some remembering the impact the last time the roads were closed.
Christine Ryder, Chairwoman of Washburn Parish Council and owner of Scaife Hall Farm said: “I do support this going forward, I myself sit on the steering committee and think it has got to happen.
“The knock-on effect of the last time the road was closed not only affected residents and businesses in the area but also places like Otley and Ilkley where traffic became a problem.
She added: “There is alot of support here, because of the amount of traffic that uses the road and the risk of the landslip. It was built when horses and carts were still being used, now it is being used by lorries.
“It just isn’t fit for purpose anymore.”
Fewston Parish Councillor and owner of Petties Paws, Howard Barker said: “It is much needed here. At the moment the road is a disaster waiting to happen.
“I think we cannot afford for the road to be shut for any length time again, we rely on people being able to travel across from areas like Skipton.
“When the road was last closed we had people just looking for alternatives, they like us but they cannot justify travelling 20 miles just to drop off their pet.
“I think this would be tremendous for the area, it is currently a difficult road and to have it sorted out would be a great relief.”
Exhibitions for the consultation are as follows:
Skipton Town Hall, Concert Hall, Thursday, September, 21, 10am-2pm and 3pm-8pm
St Peters Church Hall, Harrogate, Friday, September, 22, 10am-2pm and 3pm-8pm
Norwood Social Hall, Washburn, Saturday, September, 23, 9.30am-3pm