Sped up preparations to reroute the A59 at the unstable Kex Gill hillside could secure funding from a £100 million pot.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is halving preparation time to outline how a reroute of the stretch of road that runs across high ground between Skipton and Harrogate could be achieved and secure assistance covering a potential bill of up to £33 million.
The decision was made after the The Department for Transport (DfT) indicated a realigment programme could be a strong contender for cash from a resilience funding pot that becomes available in 2017. Tackling the risk of landslips would prevent future road closures that often result in long diversions into already congested areas like Harrogate.
The unstable hillside, which carries the A59 across a stretch of moorland near Blubberhouse, serves as a major cross-Pennine route with almost 9,000 vehicles travelling across it per day.
Julian Smith, MP for Skipton said: “It is fantastic to see that North Yorkshire County Council is forging ahead with plans for this essential scheme to improve the A59 at Kex Gill.
“This stretch of the A59 is vital for the local area and I was extremely concerned about how much disruption was caused to local residents and businesses by its closure last year.
“I will continue to do everything I can to support the County Council as it works with the Department of Transport to maintain progress on this exciting scheme.”
A major re‐alignment of the A59 at Kex Gill is now a priority in the Council’s Strategic Transport Prospectus for improving east‐west connectivity.
Heavy rain fall last Christmas led to an emergency closure of the stretch of road in January, after substantial cracks were detected on the hillside. It remained closed for nearly two months while remedial works were carried out.
Recognising the need to address the problem NYCC are committing to be prepared for bidding on funds to improving the key route.
Executive member for Highways, road safety, access to the countryside, including Broadband, mobile phone coverage, and public transport, Coun Don Mackenzie, said: “Pushing ahead at this accelerated pace will be challenging for us. However, we must be in a position to bid for the Government funding which could progress such a scheme and so we will pull out all the stops to get the project ready to go.
"We know how utterly crucial it is that the A59, a major east-west arterial route, is fit for purpose, and so we will do everything we can to bring about this much-needed realignment."
Investigatory work has been carried out on the A59 at Kex Gill, with boreholes drilled into the hillside to help measure and anticipate the risk of future landslips occurring. However this has been described as only a medium-term solution to keep the slop in place while work continues to divert the route.