Update: Specialist equipment called in to A59 closure

The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since Wednesday
The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since Wednesday

A major stretch of road near Harrogate is to remain closed as further work is carried out to investigate 'instability below the highway.'

The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since Wednesday last week, as North Yorkshire County Council investigates the cause of a crack in the road. Today it has been announced that this will continue, with specialist coring equipment set to arrive on Monday and help reveal conditions beneath the ground.

It is expected to be difficult due to the ground conditions and working around the presence of utilities, including fibre optics cables, say NYCC. Unlike other cases, where instability was found in the slope above the highway, problems with the road are believed to have been caused by instability beneath it, says Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council Executive for Highways.

He said: “It is a complex situation and we need to have a complete picture before finalising a way ahead. However, it is a top priority of the county council to fix this problem and to reopen the road as quickly as possible.

“We fully understand the disruption 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.

“Realigning this stretch of the A59 to provide a permanent solution is integral to our transport strategy for the county and work towards this is well under way.”

The coring equipment is in high demand for projects around the country, and has been acquired as quickly as possible says the County Council.

Updates are to be provided covering the findings of the ground investigation, to help keep residents and businesses updated as this develops.

The A59 is an important trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate, but has a history of instability and movement of the land at Kex Gill and there have been numerous landslips. The most recent of these was in 2016.

A public consultation on proposals for this realignment was held last autumn. A preferred realignment of the road will go before executive councillors shortly, after which a business plan will be drawn up to enable the County Council to bid for government funding with the hope that work could start on site in 2019/20.

NYCC Coun Stanley Lumley, 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.”

The official diversion route for traffic going east from Skipton or west from Harrogate follows the A65, A660, A658 and A61 via Ilkley and Otley.

The County Council also said that ambassadors are in place twenty-four hours a day on the local road network, to help people to follow the correct route, but encouraged residents to heed signs up in the area. Ambassadors will also direct commercial vehicles and through traffic away from local routes.