UNEXPECTED ‘voids’ in the rock next to the A59 at Kex Gill have meant a planned full reopening of the road over Christmas will now not take place.

North Yorkshire County Council had hoped to remove the temporary lights, allowing single lane traffic only, before the start of the festive holiday. But, lights will now remain in place to allow engineers to carry on with the repairs, and to ensure the safety of road users.

The planned week long full closure of the road, for resurfacing and drainage work will take place sometime next spring - almost a year after the road was first closed after cracks appeared in the road surface at the end of May.

It reopened to single lane traffic only in July, just before the start of the Great Yorkshire Show and permanent repairs began in October.

County councillor Don Mackenzie, the council’s executive member for highways, said repairs involve drilling into the rock below the road and fixing pins so that the retaining wall can be firmly fixed into place. But, engineers keep coming across voids in the rock which have to be filled first before the pins can be put into place.

“We assured businesses there would be no planned closure of the road during the period leading up to and over Christmas and New Year and we have stuck to that,” he said.

“We had hoped to lift the traffic lights fully before Christmas, but we have to put the safety of the travelling public first, which means doing all that is necessary to ensure our repairs are fit for purpose. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, and council officers will be on site each day over the Christmas period to monitor the area.”

Cllr Mackenzie said it appeared that the current temporary system of lights with single lane traffic was working well, with hold-ups at a minimum.

The County Council’s ultimate solution is to realign the section of the A59 to the other side of the valley. A preferred route has been agreed by the county council and a business case for funding is close to being submitted to the Department for Transport.

Cllr Mackenzie said the full business case for the road, estimated to cost in the region of more than £30 million, was almost ready to be submitted to the government, and that early indications were that ministers accepted it was a strategic route not just between Skipton and Harrogate but into Lancashire and beyond.

If all goes to plan, the council hopes construction of the new road will start in the next financial year and take around 14 months to complete.