MOTORISTS are facing further disruption following the sudden closure for safety reasons of the A59 at Kex Gill.

The vital route between Skipton and Harrogate was closed last week by North Yorkshire County Council after 'movement' was detected in the road.

Investigations are continuing to find out what needs to be done to get the road open again as soon as possible - but it is believed the latest problems extend not only to the land at the side of the road, but include the road itself.

The county council says it is committed to improving east west connections across the county and that seeking a permanent solution to the A59 at Kex Gill - which has a history of instability - is integral to its transport plans.

A consultation carried out last autumn came up with possible options to build a new road to bypass the unstable section. Costing between £33 million and £40 million, it would mean a new stretch of road of about three miles long across the valley from the existing A59.

A report is due to go to the council's Executive shortly after which a business plan will be drawn up allowing the council to bid for government funding. It is hoped work could start on site next year or in 2020.

Meanwhile, Skipton's county councillors are supporting the council's efforts to get work underway as soon as possible.

Cllr Robert Heseltine said: "It should be obvious to all concerned that a major catastrophe is at hand. If there is any danger whatsoever, the road cannot be reopened. Everyone must pull together to put pressure on the government to real ease immediate funds to make it safe and complete the diversion we have known to be needed for some years now."

Cllr Heseltine added it was imperative that businesses along the route - such as Billy Bob's Ice-cream parlour, Hesketh Farm Park and Yorkshire Pianos - be supported during the closure so that they not suffer.

Cllr Andy Solloway said the closure of an 'almost essential east west link' would mean longer journeys across and between two major areas of the county.

"It is now time for the government and our MPs to take this very seriously, and while hopefully temporary repairs can be done to open the road again, it is vital that national funding is found to replace this road with one that is fit for purpose for the amount of traffic it carries," he said.

"The stretch with the bends between Kex Gill and Blubberhouses is effectively equivalent to a B road, that is expected to carry 40 tonne vehicles and a huge volume of traffic. North Yorkshire County Council has a viable scheme for a new road on the other side, but says it does not have the funds. National government does, and I think that our MPs must continue to lobby for this."

Specialist contractors have been at the site all week assessing the extent and nature of further detailed geotechnical investigations that are needed to determine the exact cause of the movement and the best solution to get the road reopened.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, the council's Executive member for highways, said while understanding the disruption caused by the closure, the safety of drivers was of primary concern.

"Its essential that the A59 remains closed at Kex Gill while these further investigations are carried out.

“A top priority of the county council is now to fix this problem and to reopen the road as quickly as possible.

“Most people will be aware that realigning this stretch of the A59 to provide a permanent solution is integral to our transport strategy for the county and this work is well under way.”