Land-slip prone North Yorkshire road could be moved as consultation launched

A North Yorkshire road prone to landslips could be diverted to the other side of a valley to protect the route.

The A59 between Skipton and Harrogate has a history of landslips above the road to the west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill.

The most recent landslip in January 2016 led to the road being shut for eight weeks and when closed a diversion of more than six miles is used.

North Yorkshire County Council has strengthened the banks at the side of the road and improved drainage but that there remains a high risk of further landslips leading to long-term closures, it said.

The A59 runs for more than 100 miles (160km) between York and Liverpool.

Realigning the A59 at Kex Gill to the other side of the valley is part of the County Council’s strategic transport plan to improve easy to west connections between the east coast and Humber ports and Lancashire.

The council commissioned an assessment of the options for realigning the road. Initially, 16 possible routes were identified. Of these, 12 were discounted because of engineering or environmental constraints, continued risks of landslip, and cost.

The remaining four have been identified as the “most achievable” and the cost of construction is estimated at between £33m and £40m. At a meeting last week, a public consultation on these routes was approved.

The council said it is preparing a funding bid to the Department for Transport.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for highways, said: “The A59 provides a vital link between the east and west of the region through North Yorkshire. Its reliability is crucial for the economic growth of our county as well as the convenience and safety of commuters, visitors and residents.

“The consultation will help us to determine the route that most improves the resilience of the A59, along with improved safety and increased reliability of journey times for road users while maintaining the landscape, ecological and historical value of the surrounding area.

“The consultation will be wide-ranging with public events to allow people to view the proposals as well as opportunities to give their responses online and on paper. Details will be announced shortly and we would urge everyone with an interest in the route to take part.”