As well as appointing designers for the scheme, Highways England has also revealed its preferred route for the trans-Pennine transformation, with various discrete construction elements. They include five new bypasses, key junction improvements and an underpass at the congested Kemplay Bank roundabout near Penrith.
The A66 links the M6 at Penrith in Cumbria with the A1(M) at Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire.
Last year Highways England went out to public consultation on options for improving the A66.
“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, said Highways England senior project manager Matt Townsend.
“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.
“We feel the proposals reflect ours and the government’s vision of a northern trans-Pennine route fit for the rest of the century. They also reflect the aspirations of the majority of people, including a diverse range of interest groups, who engaged with us in many months of discussion or gave us their views during the consultation.”
Under a £45m design contract, Amey Consulting and Arup will now work up these preferred options before a second public consultation next year.
As well as choosing the underpass instead of a fly-over at Kemplay Bank, 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.
Alex Gilbert, managing director of Amey Consulting (originally Owen Williams & Partners), said: “Our strong history in UK-based design of major highways and our current design services contracts with Highways England in Areas 13 (North West) and 14 (North East) brings a unique, local understanding of this route. Our experience of working in partnership with Arup also means this programme can benefit from years of collaboration and expertise in highways engineering. Communities across the north will benefit from a safer, better performing and more reliable route.”
Amey Consulting and Arup have previous experience of collaborating on large highways contracts. They are currently working together to design the dualling of a 26-mile section of the A96 in Scotland following a £50m contract award in 2017.
Further details of the project can be found at highwaysengland.co.uk