DRIVERS should be better prepared for the closure of a major road often affected by snow thanks to £180,000 worth of work.

The Highways Agency has installed new snowgates and more signs on the M6 and A66 to keep driver’s up to date on the latter road’s condition.

The project, which was completed at the end of the summer, is designed to make the trans-Pennine route safer when it has to close due to snow drifts, ice or gales.

The new arrangements remove the need to divert traffic through Brough and provide quicker implementation of the road closure and re-opening following snow and ice clearance operations.

The new snow gates are near Augill Beck about three miles west of Stainmore - one of the highest points along any trunk road in England at 1,400 feet above sea level and where the worst winter weather can land.

Andy Withington, the Highways Agency’s service delivery manager for the North West, said: “Many drivers don’t realise how hostile weather conditions can get beyond the snow gates.

“As the route out of Appleby gradually climbs and becomes more exposed it becomes increasingly vulnerable to snow drifts, gales and ice around Stainmore.

"These new arrangements will give drivers a better warning in severe weather to choose alternative routes and not risk getting stuck beyond the gates.

“Those who do go past the warning signs will be allowed to turn around at the gates, reducing the risk of them getting stuck and needing rescue or blocking our winter service vehicles as we work to re-open the route again.”