The storm-damaged A591 in Cumbria, which has been closed since December, is set to reopen earlier than initially planned, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed.
During a visit to see how flood-hit parts of Cumbria are recovering from the damage caused by storms Desmond and Eva, the Transport Secretary announced that Highways England and its contractor Kier are doing all they can to reopen the A591 on Friday May 13.
The new opening date – which has been brought forward from the end of May - means holidaymakers travelling to Cumbria for the spring bank holiday and the school half-term break would be able to travel along the entire stretch of the A591 between Grasmere and Keswick.
Work to reopen the road is being carried out by Highways England and Kier on behalf of Cumbria County Council.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The A591 is vital to Cumbria’s economy, providing an essential link for residents, businesses and tourists, so it is great news that Highways England expects to reopen the route earlier than planned.
“We know that the winter storms had a devastating effect on many people in Cumbria and across the north. That is why we have invested more than £117 million – including an extra £83 million in last month’s Budget – to ensure the region gets back on its feet as quickly as possible.”
The Transport Secretary was joined by Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan and Keith Little, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, to see how work was progressing on the A591.
Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, said: “We’re acutely aware how important this road is to local people and tourism businesses. When we started the repairs in February we promised we’d be working to reopen the road as quickly as possible and with some great progress in the last few weeks we’re looking to do that by the middle of May rather than at the end of the month - which should be great news for visitors and businesses planning for the late spring bank holiday.”
Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Cumbria County Council said: “We are delighted that Patrick has made time in his busy schedule to show his support for the affected businesses and communities of Cumbria but more importantly his visit brings with him the excellent news that the A591 will re-open even sooner than expected. Everyone involved with the repair deserves our thanks as they have worked tirelessly to reopen this road, a road which is a vital connection for communities, businesses and tourists alike.”
As part of the visit, the Transport Secretary also took the opportunity to see repair work at Pooley Bridge and Eamont Bridge, both of which were severely damaged in the December storms.
In total, the government has awarded nearly £180 million to help communities across the north recover from the December storms.
In a further boost, the Transport Secretary also announced that Cumbria County Council has received nearly £1.5 million from the government’s Pothole Action Fund, to help repair more than 27,000 potholes in the region during the current financial year.