£59m overhaul for A59 in Nidderdale as Kex Gill section to be scrapped, Department for Transport confirm

A major road beset with landslip problems which links Harrogate and Skipton is set to benefit from a £56m overhaul, the government has announced.

Almost £60m will be spent on roadworks to improve the A59, it has been confirmed by the Department for Transport. Pictured: Grant Shapps, DfT secretary

A new 3.9km carriageway will be built on the A59, meaning traffic will no longer use the Kex Gill section of the route, near Blubberhouses in Nidderdale, which has been the scene of a number of landslips over a number of year prompting closures and lengthy diversions, causing misery for drivers.

The government says the proposed new road will offer a more reliable alternative for drivers.

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The Department for Transport (DfT) have said that pending final approval, roadworks could begin this autumn, as part of its “levelling up” agenda for the north.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “I know that residents have been frustrated by frequent road closures at Kex Gill caused by landslips in the area. Our funding will go a long way towards addressing those problems, making journeys more reliable for people travelling between Harrogate and Skipton.

“As a Government we’re committed to levelling up across the country and building back better from the coronavirus pandemic – improving transport infrastructure in the North is absolutely vital to both of those ambitions.”

North Yorkshire County Council is to spend £4m on the new road, with the DfT confirming it will meet the rest of the costs.

Council leader Carl Les said: “We whole-heartedly welcome this announcement. The confirmation of funding is an important milestone towards bringing this much-needed project to fruition.

“The A59 is a vital east-west connection and a continuing priority for the county council.

“It is essential for the prosperity of businesses within North Yorkshire and the wider region that this route is safe, reliable and resilient.”

But the RSPB expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the new road in its planning stages and the effect its construction would have on rare wildlife.

It said that the government and council mitigation plans to protect wildlife while working on the new road did not go far enough to safeguard rare birds.

Yesterday a spokesperson from the charity said: “Some of our most threatened birds, such as curlew, golden plover and lapwing, could be affected through disturbance and being displaced.

“We are calling on planners to push for much stronger protection for nature.”

Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director at Transport for the North, welcomed the news. He said: “Confirmed funding for upgrading the A59 will be welcome news for residents and businesses, who for too long have been subjected to repeated delays and disruption along this section of the route.

“Investing in our region’s transport network is an essential part of the levelling up agenda."