Work is progressing on the complex task of permanent repairs to the A59 at Kex Gill.
However, the work will take longer than expected because ground conditions are more difficult than the original investigations indicated. Therefore, traffic signals that have been in place since the work began in October will remain in operation over the Christmas period.
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said:
We assured local businesses there would be no planned closure of the road during the period leading up to and over Christmas and New Year and we have stuck to that. We had hoped to lift the traffic lights fully before Christmas, but we have to put the safety of the travelling public first, which means doing all that is necessary to ensure our repairs are fit for purpose. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. Council officers will be on site each day over the Christmas period to monitor the area.
The repairs involve drilling into the rock below the road to enable the retaining wall to be firmly fixed in place. The discovery of voids in the area behind the wall has caused delays. The repairs will be completed in the new year and will be followed later in the new year by a week-long closure, postponed from before Christmas, for resurfacing and drainage work.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley, Member for Pateley Bridge division and a member of the Kex Gill steering group, said:
I think the decision to delay the opening is a result of unforeseeable circumstances. The important thing is we still have the road operating albeit with traffic control, the delays are minimal. This is very important to our local economy and businesses and for local people and visitors to our area over the Christmas and New Year period.
The A59 is an important trans-Pennine route between Skipton and Harrogate, but there is a history of instability in land around the road west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill. The road closed at Kex Gill in late spring after movement in the carriageway. It reopened to single-file traffic under traffic light control in July after an initial phase of repairs. Permanent repairs began in October.
The County Council’s ultimate solution is to realign this section of the A59 to the other side of the valley. A preferred route for this realignment has been agreed by the County Council and a business case for funding is being prepared for submission to the Department for Transport. It is anticipated construction could start in the financial year 2019/20 and the road could take 14 months to complete.