The official preferred route has been announced for the £1 billion Trans-Pennine A66 upgrade.
The proposals an underpass at Kemplay Bank and 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.
The A66 links the M6 at Penrith in Cumbria with the A1(M) at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire. 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.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As we gradually reopen our society, we want to ensure communities across the North are able to benefit from smoother, safe, better connected journeys.
“Upgrading this vital national link will not only level up infrastructure in the region but will deliver benefits up and down the country - supporting tourism and movement between our key ports.”
The proposals announced today are also the most popular options among people responding in last year’s public consultation.
Highways England’s senior project manager Matt Townsend added: “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.
“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.”
All the preferred options will now go into a period of further analysis, development and design before a second public consultation and scrutiny period next year.