A major route that connects Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire to Cumbria is set to be upgraded after plans were approved by the government. 

The A66 is set to get to be dualled in its entirety - as currently, the notorious 50-mile stretch from Scotch Corner at the A1(M) in North Yorkshire to Penrith on the M6 in Cumbria is a dangerous mixture of single and dual carriageway.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper approved the £1.3bn scheme yesterday (Thursday, March 7), after facing previous delays and deadline extensions.

A huge consultation and planning exercise has been carried out by National Highways over the past four years and work is due to begin on the scheme to finally transform the route into a full-length dual carriageway, after receiving the final go-ahead from the Government.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed work is expected to commence on the road later this year. 

Responding to news that plans to upgrade the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner Martin Tugwell, chief executive of Transport for the North (TfN) said: “This is very welcome news that the people and businesses across Cumbria, Durham, North Yorkshire and the Tees Valley have been calling for over many years. 

"TfN set out the strategic importance of this scheme at its inquiry and it is good news to see the Secretary of State confirm the order.  

“Duelling the A66 will deliver vital improvements to east-west connectivity in the North. It will remove bottlenecks along this key corridor, make the road safer and more reliable for everyone who uses it, including the high percentage of freight using the route, and connect our towns and cities to Scotland.

“It will be one of the biggest investments in the North’s road network for a generation and we look forward to continuing to work with National Highways as they deliver this very important piece of national infrastructure.”

Rishi Sunak has welcomed the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision. The MP for Richmond said: “This is a vital road scheme for a key element of the nation’s infrastructure and particularly for the North of England economy.

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“The remaining single-carriageway sections of this strategically important road have contributed to extensive delays and closure over the years as traffic volumes have increased. Dualling will improve the reliability of the road, lead to better journey times and, most importantly, improved safety.

“The Ravensworth junction of the A66 has been the scene of a number of fatal and serious injury accidents in the past. Working with the parish council and the A66 Action Group, we secured changes to the junction which improved matters but dualling is the best solution and I am delighted that the scheme is going ahead.

“I look forward to work beginning later this year.”