Specialist coring equipment is due to arrive on site at the A59 at Kex Gill on Monday (11 June) to carry out further investigations into the cause of movement at the location.
The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since Wednesday, 30 May, following signs of movement. Further investigations are being carried out to supplement the assessments made immediately after the road was closed.
These investigations are made complex by the difficulty of the ground conditions and the need to work around sophisticated utilities apparatus, including fibre optics cables, in the vicinity.
The coring equipment expected on Monday is specialist and in high demand for projects around the country, but the County Council has secured its use as quickly as possible. It will take samples of material to reveal conditions beneath the ground, which will help the County Council to understand what has happened and to decide on the best solution.
The County Council will develop a programme following the findings of the ground investigation and will issue regular updates to keep residents and businesses informed.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “Unlike earlier closures, this one is not caused by instability in the slope above the highway. It appears to be caused by instability below the highway. 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 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. Realigning the road at this point to the other side of the valley is part of the County Council’s strategic transport plan to improve east to west connections.
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.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley, Member for Pateley Bridge division and 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.”
During the current closure, the 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 has put ambassadors in place twenty-four hours a day on the local road network to help people to follow the correct route. They will do everything they can to maintain access for local traffic, but it is important that motorists heed the signs. Ambassadors will direct commercial vehicles and through traffic away from local routes.