Councillors call for A59 bypass pressure

Roadworks at Kex Gill
Roadworks at Kex Gill

Drainage works costing £200,000 that are starting this week to enhance the security of the slope at Kex Gill on the A59 have prompted strong reactions from council members.

The third set of works of this kind at Kex Gill since 2008, Couns Ian Galloway and John Fort acknowledged the recurring problem of landslips in the area.

Expressing his concern about traffic flow, Coun Galloway said: “We have had this problem before, but one day the whole lot might slip down and then we are in real trouble.

“The road really needs a major infrastructure replacement, and the county should put pressure on Westminster so that we can build a bypass. That’s the only way to sort the problem.

“I’m getting sick of Westminster spending £3,000 a head in London and £200 a head in Yorkshire.

“We are being given a bad run and it is about time Westminster realised this country is more than just London. I have no faith in Westminster.”

Unprecedented rainfall since 2012 has been cited as the reasoning behind the works, which are taking place to supplement those carried out during a five week closure between June and July 2011.

Coun Fort said they are ‘part of the on-going saga’ at Kex Gill.

He said: “I think this set of works will be more successful than the last, though it is like the little Dutch boy - you put your finger in one hole and another one appears.

“My ultimate goal wouild be to have a bypass that took Kex Gill out of the equation, but we would need some assistance from the government and I would suggest a budget of £14m.

“In the present austere times the question will be where can the money come from, but I do keep an eye on it to see if I can get it sent in that direction.”

Temporary lights have now been set up to maintain traffic flow on the A59, and a 40 mph speed limit has been applied.

The tract of road, which runs across high ground between moorland, has several geological problems that make it prone to landslips in bed weather.

In 2011, the stretch of the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton at Kex Gill was resurfaced and the banks were strengthened.

Despite these efforts at stabilisation less than three years ago, this most recent set of drainage works are due to last six weeks.

North Yorkshire’s executive member for highways, Gareth Dadd, apologised for inconvenience to road users, but said the works were necessary for the stability of the slope above the road.