County councillors are being asked to pledge extra funding for the realignment of a major trans-Pennine route in North Yorkshire, the A59 Harrogate to Skipton road at Kex Gill, if the cost exceeds the Government’s grant.
Funds provided by the Department of Transport (DfT), on top of the contribution from North Yorkshire County Council, will be used to cover the realigning work.
On Tuesday, November 24, the County Council’s Executive will be asked to approve the condition to cover any unlikely overspend.
The A59 is a key east – west route between Harrogate and Skipton, but there is a long history of instability in the land above the road west of Blubberhouses at Kex Gill. There have been several landslips over the years, which have led to road closures, the most recent in May 2018.
There remains a risk of further landslips, so the County Council developed proposals for a permanent solution, which involved realigning the route to the other side of the valley.
A full business case was submitted to the DfT in November 2019. Its decision on funding, planned for December 2019, is still awaited due to delays caused by the last General Election and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision on the planning application is expected on December 15. Subject to no public inquiry taking place, work is expected to start in summer 2021.
The current estimate for the scheme is £60.349m without a public inquiry or £61.128m with a public inquiry. The DfT has indicated it will fund up to a maximum of £55.399m and £56.178m, depending on the decision to carry out a public inquiry, with the County Council contributing £4.95m.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said:
The County Council is anxious to proceed with the much-needed realignment of this important trans-Pennine route and to avoid closures and diversions in the future. Nevertheless, we do understand that circumstances over the last 12 months have meant that a final decision on granting funding for the work has taken longer than expected.
The County Council has already confirmed its share towards the total cost of the scheme, and I hope that next week my Executive colleagues will accept the need also to agree to fund any cost overruns in the unlikely event that they occur.