A66 upgrade scheme gets Government approval

The A66 at Scotch Corner.

Plans to upgrade the A66 route between Scotch Corner and Penrith have today been given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State for Transport.

Road bosses say the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project will transform journeys along the route.

The improvements — which have been discussed but never started for several decades — will see the remaining single carriageway sections along the 50-mile route converted into dual carriageway.

The plans have today been granted development consent by the Secretary of State.

Once the Development Consent Order (DCO) decision challenge period has concluded in April this year, the next step will be for Government to review and approve the full business case for the project.

Officials say granting of the consent order means National Highways can look ahead to the construction phase.

Preparatory archaeological works and utilities diversions are currently taking place along the A66.

This project is billed as the biggest single investment in the North’s road network in a generation.

Stewart Jones, National Highways project director for the A66 Northern Trans-Pennine project, said: “We are delighted to have received approval and to be able to give the people of Cumbria, County Durham and North Yorkshire some positive news.

“A lot of hard work has gone into getting us to this position. Now we can push on and deliver this project as efficiently as possible.”

The route carries high levels of freight, with 25 per cent of the traffic being heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), more than twice the national average for a road of this nature.

While National Highways says it aims to reduce congestion and improve journey times, the biggest priority is safety with the road having a high number of serious accidents every year.

Officials say the improvements will also reduce delays and queues during busy periods and improve the performance of key junctions such as the A66/A1 and the M6 junction 40.

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has welcomed the granting of the consent order.

“This is a vital road scheme for a key element of the nation’s infrastructure and particularly for the North of England economy.

“The remaining single carriageway sections of this strategically-important road have contributed to extensive delays and closure over the years as traffic volumes have increased. Dualling will improve the reliability of the road, lead to better journey times and, most importantly, improved safety.

“The Ravensworth junction of the A66 has been the scene of a number of fatal and serious injury accidents in the past. Working with the parish council and the A66 Action Group, we secured changes to the junction which improved matters but dualling is the best solution and I am delighted that the scheme is going ahead.

“I look forward to work beginning later this year.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “This Government backs drivers which is why we’re investing over £24bn into our roads to reduce congestion, create jobs and grow the economy.

“We also have our long-term Plan for Drivers to slam the brakes on anti-car measures and keep the country moving.”


1 Comment

  1. This is very good news indeed from all points of view, especially road safety on a road which has sadly seen many accidents and fatalities over the years.
    It has taken decades to get to this position but here we are at last.

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