MULTI million pound plans to build a new section of road to bypass the notorious, landslip prone, stretch of the A59 at Kex Gill - which at the weekend was temporarily closed because of snow , and which remains a ‘significant risk to road users’ - have been submitted by North Yorkshire County Council.

The fully detailed application for the 3.9 km (2.5 mile) section of single carriageway road, with passing places, will go before the council’s own planning committee and has a target decision date of March 30, next year.

The council has previously said it wants to start work on the road realignment in the late spring, subject to funding and planning permission, and expects it to take 16 months to complete, opening during the summer of 2021.

The cost of the whole project is put at £43.7 million of which £4.95 million has already been set aside in the council’s capital budget. A n outline business case received ‘positive’ feedback from the government’s Department for Transport in the summer, and the full business case was submitted last month.

In the council’s planning statement, prepared by international transport and infrastructure experts WSP, the proposed new section of road is described as being in an ‘environmentally sensitive setting’ but that the realignment is needed because of a ‘long history of landslips on the land above Kex Gill’ which ‘results in the deposition of material on the road leading to long and costly closures’.

The planned realignment is between the west of North Moor Road and Blubberhouses. It is north of the existing A59 and incorporates modifications to the junctions of North Moor Road, on the Skipton side of Kex Gill, and at Hall Lane and Church Hill, on the Blubberhouses side of Kex Gill.

It is planned that the existing stretch of the road, from Blubberhouses to Botham’s Farm and Paradise, will be downgraded, reduced in width, and will continue as private access and a public right of way for part of its length. In addition, the existing road from Paradise to where a footpath joins the existing A59 will be removed and returned to moorland habitat as part of the Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.

Also included in the scheme are the diversion of Hall Beck watercourse, landscaping, environmental mitigation, new culverts, and a 100 metre long retaining wall. There will also be diversions and increases to 1,526 metres of bridlepaths and public rights of way, and the construction of two underpasses.

WSP, for the council, argues that various engineering works have taken place to remediate previous landslips, some of which have led to the road being closed for several months, and also to reduce the risk of further landslips.

But that: “Due to the extent of the area at risk and the large scale of the existing and potential landslip features, full stabilisation of the area would be costly and unlikely be practicable or environmentally acceptable. However, without intervention there remains a significant risk to road users.”

If built, the realigned road will provide ‘significant ancillary benefit’ through a more reliable east to west connectivity, supporting economic growth and improving road safety, says the council.