How will the A66 upgrade affect your business?

Cumbrian businesses are being urged to respond to proposals for a £1bn upgrade of the A66.

Highways England is consulting on a scheme to create a continuous dual carriageway from Penrith to Scotch Corner.

It is planning a series of public drop-in events before the consultation closes on July 11.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s important that businesses examine these proposals to see how they might be affected.

“It could be that construction work interferes with your business or a new bypass leads to permanent loss of trade. If that’s the case, make your views known to Highways England.”

He added: “In some places the plan is to widen the existing road while in others there will be a completely new alignment.

“The intention is to allow A66 traffic to avoid Kemplay Bank roundabout at Penrith by building either an underpass or a flyover, and there will be a bypass for Kirkby Thore.

“The Chamber met Highways England in March, in part because we were concerned about timescale slippage and the potential for disruption during the construction phase.

“They reassured us that access to key sites, such as Center Parcs and British Gypsum, will be maintained at all times.

“Two-thirds of the route is dual carriageway already but there are six sections that require upgrading. Their plan is to work on two sections, one either side of the Pennines, at any one time.

“Although disruption and delays are inevitable, businesses will welcome the upgrade. It has been a long time coming.”

The scheme was announced by George Osborne in 2016 when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Highways England says that HGVs and vans make up a quarter of all traffic on the A66, double the proportion on the strategic road network as a whole.

Creating a continuous dual carriageway should shorten journey times, cut the number of accidents and, when accidents do occur, reduce the likelihood of the road being blocked.

The Department for Transport is due to publish its preferred route next spring. Subject to funding, work should start in 2024 and take at least five-and-a-half years to complete.

Click here to view details of the proposals, drop-in events and information on how to respond to the consultation.

Listen to the Chamber’s Business Engagement Manager, Julian Whittle, discussing the upgrade with BBC Radio Cumbria’s Mike Zeller.

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce