CECA has welcomed news that the official preferred route for the £1 billion A66 upgrade has been announced, adding to the list of improvements Highways England wants to take forward to construction, in what will be a significant boost to the economy of the North West.
The A66 is both a nationally important road, linking the M6 at Penrith in Cumbria with the A1(M) at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire, and a key regional route. As well as benefiting local people the upgrade will support tourism and freight traffic, improving connections between ports in Scotland and Northern Ireland and those in England at Hull and Felixstowe.
Commenting, CECA North West Director Guy Lawson said:”Investing in infrastructure must be centre-stage in the UK Government’s post-Covid-19 plans for enabling the economy to recover.
“This scheme will not only deliver better connectivity to communities across the North of England, but will support tourism and movement between the UK’s key ports, and significantly improve the resilience of a vital east-west transport artery.
“Investment in infrastructure is a driver of growth, and delivering better connectivity will be at the heart of securing the recovery in the months and years ahead.
“We hope that this scheme will now progress towards delivery with opportunities for both regional and national contractors, so that the positive economic and social impact it will bring can be put in place, to the benefit of communities and businesses across the North of England and wider UK.”
As well as choosing the underpass instead of a fly-over at Kemplay Bank, Highways England is proposing the following options to bypass existing sections of the route or provide dualling alongside the existing single carriageway road:
- A northern bypass of a three-mile section between Penrith and Temple Sowerby
- The northern bypass option for Kirkby Thore
- The most northerly of two options bypassing Crackenthorpe
- Taking forward the single option to dual a five-mile section between Appleby and Brough alongside the existing section of single carriageway
- Similarly, converting a 1.9-mile section of the route north of Bowes – the current, single carriageway Bowes bypass – into a dual carriageway
- A bypass south of the Old Rectory between Cross Lane and Rokeby instead of a conversion which would have required demolishing buildings
- The most northerly of three bypass options linking sections of existing dual carriageway between Stephen Bank and Carkin Moor
The proposals also include significant improvements to the existing junctions between Barnard Castle and the A66 at Bowes and Rokeby. These will improve safety at the two junctions and make for safer, smoother journeys for HGVs.
All of the villages being bypassed will benefit from the removal of high volumes of traffic, including HGVs, from the existing road as well as improved community connectivity. Pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders will also benefit from the upgrade which will reduce collisions, competition from other vehicles and associated congestion along one of the most important commercial routes in the north of the UK.