A66 team look at re-drawing controversial junction plans
By Trevor Brookes - Editor
CAMPAIGNERS say they are encouraged by talks taking place to stop large numbers of vehicles being re-routed through Barnard Castle because of changes to the A66.
Under proposals revealed late last year, HGVs driving from Scotch Corner on the A66 would turn off at Rokeby to get to Barnard Castle. But smaller vehicles travelling west on the A66 will use the Cross Lanes junction and travel through Startforth.
Protests have been sounded by the parish council and Cllr Richard Bell who say the road along The Sills and up The Bank is not suitable for a large increase in traffic.
County councillors Ted Henderson, James Rowlandson and George Richardson, along with Cllr Bell, had a Zoom meeting with Highways England’s A66 project team and Dave Wafer, from Durham County Council’s highways department.
The meeting was held to address the concerns that the current proposals would lead to “significant extra traffic” along unsuitable roads which “would have serious environmental and amenity impact for residents”.
Cllr Bell said: “The A66 team has modelled the data on the current proposals, and it confirms those fears. Over three-quarters of traffic going from/to Barnard Castle would come off at the Cross Lanes junction. This is roughly the reverse of the present situation. Accordingly, they are looking at design changes which would restore an eastbound access at Rokeby, and make changes to the junction at Cross Lanes, which modelling shows would balance the traffic flows at the two junctions. These design stages are at an early stage and much work remains to be done before there is any public consultation.” The issues of cycle crossings over the A66 and links to the footpath network were also raised, along with the need to look carefully at signage when the junctions' design is finalised.
Cllr Bell said “I am encouraged by the engagement of the A66 team, which has improved hugely since I first raised the concerns, and the county councillors will be working to see this progresses to concrete improved proposals, and have requested a further meeting before the end of March.”