North Yorkshire County Council must undertake further stabilisation of the slope above the A59 at Kex Gill following last weekend’s heavy rainfall.
The stretch of road, which runs across high ground between Skipton and Harrogate, has been closed since Tuesday 5 January when substantial cracks were detected on the hillside after heavy rain over the Christmas period. In the past, this stretch of road has been affected by landslips in bad weather.
Parts of the slope had shifted by up to 800mm and there was concern about the amount of water that had become trapped and pooled at the top of the area of instability.
North Yorkshire County Council’s contractors began work on Monday 18 January to install a solution designed by geotechnical engineers to drain the water from this area using a drainage channel. The slope has also been constantly monitored.
Despite very strong winds and heavy showers over last weekend and the early part of this week, the contractor, which is working seven days a week, has made good progress with the construction of the drainage channel.
These works, which are weather dependent, were expected to take up to six weeks and have required a full closure of the A59 either side of Kex Gill.
However, as a result of further heavy rainfall last week, it has become necessary to provide additional drainage measures and to stengthen the retaining wall at the bottom of the slope adjacent to the A59.
The contractor will be able to carry out some of this work at the same time as the current drainage work. But there is a section on the slope below the drainage works, which the contractor will need to work on separately for safety reasons.
The combination of the recent poor weather and the extra drainage works will therefore extend the construction time by approximately 10 days. This means that the road is now expected to re-open during the week beginning 7 March 2016.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Highways said:
Stabilising these steep slopes above the A59 is a difficult and complex operation which is entirely weather-dependant.
We are fully aware of the urgency of the work and our contractor is working seven days a week during daylight hours to progress the work as quickly as possible. The slopes are steep and this high ground subject to harsh weather conditions. Unfortunately, after last weekend’s heavy rains, our monitoring of the slope has revealed the need for additional stabilisation and drainage works to move water away from the slope.
We appreciate the inconvenience that this closure is causing, but safety of the travelling public remains paramount and I can reassure motorists that we will reopen the road as soon as it is safe to do so.
The County Council’s long-term aim is to deliver a major re‐alignment of the A59 at Kex Gill which is now a priority in the Council’s Strategic Transport Prospectus for improving east‐west connectivity. The cost of such a scheme is currently estimated at approximately £33m.
Progress reports on the work will be posted on the County Council’s website at www.northyorks.gov.uk/kexgill, where details of the signed diversion route and a copy of the presentation given at the public meeting can also be found.