Plans for a £1 billion upgrade to the A66 road have been unveiled by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The road connects the east and the west of the North of England.
Highways England plans to broaden the remaining 18 miles of the A66 that are, at present, single-lane, in line with the rest of the route which is a dual carriageway. An eight-week consultation into options for the completion of the project has now been launched. It will explore how the upgrade should be carried out on varying sections of the road.
Some sections of the route will benefit from a straightforward ‘dualling’, while others could be freed up by a bypass. Examples of the latter include the five-mile Appleby to Brough section, and the more residential areas of Kirkby Thore and Crackenthorpe.
Overall, the goal is to ease congestion at peak times and improve journey times across the country. Once operational, speed limits across the A66 are likely to be increased.
The road is an industrial lifeline between for the region. It stretches 50 miles between Penrith in Cumbria and Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire. The upgrade, while benefitting local residents, will benefit freight and port routes across the country, better linking the likes of Stanraer to Hull, Felixstowe and beyond.
“Dualling the A66 will not only mean drivers’ journeys are quicker, safer and more reliable across the Pennines, but is part of our pledge to ensure that the business opportunities of the Northern Powerhouse spread out from the great cities of the North of England to every city, town and rural community from the Midlands to the Scottish Lowlands,” said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Upgrading the trans-Pennine route is a part of a much larger plan to upgrade highways in the North of England.
“We are investing a record £13 billion to improve journeys across the North of England,” the Transport Secretary said.
“The A66 connects businesses, communities and families across the north of England, and this highly anticipated upgrade is great news for the local, and regional economies and will improve the national road network,” commented Highways England chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan.