The A59 at Kex Gill is unlikely to open before the end of February, with work to drain water from an area of instability to begin on Monday, January 18.
The stretch of road, which runs across high ground between Skipton and Harrogate, was closed last week after substantial cracks were detected on the hillside after recent heavy rain. In the past, this stretch of road has been affected by landslips in bad weather.
Read more: A59 Kex Gill closure: Enough is enough
A survey by geotechnical engineers last week revealed significant movement of up to 800mm in parts of the slope. Further monitoring this week revealed no further significant movement. However, there were concerns 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 now plan to begin work on Monday to install a temporary solution designed by geotechnical engineers to drain the water away from this area.
These works are expected to take up to six weeks to complete. The road cannot reopen until the drainage solution is in place along with a system of remote monitoring linked to an emergency protocol system. The emergency protocol system is a way that the road can be reopened through a risk management-based approach using remote monitoring of the slope and associated procedures for a response based on a set of parameters for slope movement.
This means that the road is unlikely to reopen before the end of February. The work will be dependent on the weather, so further bad weather could cause delays.
County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We fully understand the inconvenience caused by this closure, but the safety of road users has to be paramount. Our contractor is fully aware of the urgency of the work and we are confident they will progress it as quickly as possible, given the terrain and risks at the site. They will work seven days a week during daylight hours. Unfortunately, the site is not suitable for night working.
“Our contractor will be working remote from the road or hard standing and all equipment will need to be carried up the hillside to the exposed location where they will be working.
“Regular essential works at Kex Gill are the result of the inherent unsuitability of the alignment of the road on this part of the A59 route which is a primary trans-Pennine highway favoured by many drivers as an alternative to the M62. It has been a priority for the County Council to divert the A59 away from the steeply sloped Kex Gill to a more suitable route to the north. This plan is contained in the Strategic Transport Prospectus we published last year and will feature again in our Local Transport Plan 2016, which is due to be adopted by the County Council next month.”
While the closure continues, the County Council is urging drivers to use the official signed diversion route. Many local roads are unsuitable for the size and volume of vehicles that normally use the A59. Where possible, non-emergency highway works on the diversion route will be rescheduled.
Progress reports on the work will be posted on the County Council’s website at www.northyorks.gov.uk/kexgill, where details of the diversion route can also be found.