The Government has announced the preferred route for the £1bn A66 dualling scheme.
The A66 Northern Trans-Pennine upgrade will convert the remaining six single carriageway sections of the A66 between the A1(M) at Scotch Corner and the M6 at Penrith.
Click on image to see full size map.
This long-awaited project comes under Highways England's second road investment strategy (RIS 2) for 2020 to 2025, and was confirmed in the RIS 2 document.
Highways England expect to commence construction during the RIS 2 period and 'unlike similar upgrades in the past, we are planning this work as a single coordinated programme, without lengthy gaps between improvements at individual locations'.
Highways England has also announced that the £45m design contract for the project, put out to tender in October, had been awarded to Amey Consulting in collaboration with Arup.
The announcement of the plans, which include a range of decisions on structural and route options, follows consultation and Highways England said that in every case, 'the chosen option was the most popular among the 857 respondents'.
The consultation involved more than a dozen events held along the route between May and July of last year and attended by 2,333 people.
Senior project manager Matt Townsend said: 'We are delighted more than 92% of people backed the idea of completing the dualling of the A66. Since the consultation ended ten months ago, we have carefully considered all the public responses.
'We have revisited issues such as the environmental impact of each option, how we can re-connect communities currently separated by the existing road and how to improve the route for pedestrians and cyclists.'
Among the key decisions made, Highways England has gone with an underpass instead of a fly-over at Kemplay Bank.
It is also 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
- 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.
All the preferred options will now go into further analysis, development and design before a second public consultation and scrutiny period next year.
The RIS 2 document released earlier this year states the A66 is 'the most important route to get from east to west for many of England’s northern counties'.
'Government first proposed dualling the A66 in 1946. Although piecemeal progress has been made over the intervening decades, through RIS 2 we formally commit to complete this project. Overall, the projects delivered through RIS 2 should add a third to the strategic road capacity across the Pennines.'