Highways England has announced the preferred route for the £1bn project, which would expand 18 miles of the A66 from single to dual carriageway, and introduce new bypasses and junctions.
The A66 links Penrith in Cumbria with Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire. Highways England’s plan would fully dual the remaining single carriageway sections of the A66, which total 18 miles of the 50-mile road.
The decision on the preferred route follows a public consultation held last year. Amey Consulting and Arup have been appointed to work up detailed designs.
The proposed route includes five bypasses and an underpass at the congested Kemplay Bank roundabout near Penrith.
The proposals also include improvements to the existing junctions between Barnard Castle and the A66 at Bowes and Rokeby. These aim to improve safety at the two junctions and make for smoother journeys for HGVs.
Highways England will now carry out further surveys and investigations to design the scheme in more detail, with a view to consulting with the public again in 2021.
The North’s statutory transport body, Transport for the North, responded to the news.
Peter Molyneux, major roads director at Transport for the North, said: “For almost 250 miles between Stoke-on-Trent and Glasgow, the only major East-West road connection is the M62. The only full dual carriageway, which is as a result overworked and congested.
“Upgrades to the A66 are absolutely essential to improve connections and experience, as the people that regularly use it will attest. Creating another full northern dual carriageway will speed up journeys, making the road more reliable for passengers and help freight get across the Pennines, connecting ports on both coasts. It’s not only a hugely important route between the Lake District and North Yorkshire – and the dozens of communities in between – it also helps connect Scotland to our towns and cities.
“The green light for this project is another piece of the jigsaw in our 30-year mission to give the North the quality connections it needs. The key now will be looking at ways to get on site as quickly as possible to deliver the benefits.”
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