£1bn upgrade of A66 Scotch Corner-M6 takes shape

Highways England has announced that major upgrades to the notorious Trans-Pennine A66 road have come a step closer with the “official preferred route” announced for a £1 billion upgrade of the route.

The plan — including dualling and five new bypasses — reveals the list of improvements Highways England wants to now take into construction.

“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,” said Highways England.

“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 …

“The proposals announced today are also the most popular options among people responding in last year’s huge public consultation.

“They include five new bypasses, key junction improvements and an underpass at the congested Kemplay Bank roundabout near Penrith.”

Highways England’s senior project manager Matt Townsend said: “We are delighted more than 92 percent 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.

“The options we have revealed today are the ones we want to take forward into construction, but they were also the most popular among people who responded in the consultation.

“We feel the proposals reflect ours and the Government’s vision of a Northern Trans-Pennine route fit for the rest of the century.

“They also reflect the aspirations of the majority of people, including a diverse range of interest groups, who engaged with us in many months of discussion or gave us their views during the consultation.”

As well as choosing an 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,” added Highways England.

“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 United Kingdom.

“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.

In all, almost 93 percent of people backed the overall dualling plan.”

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.