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Kirkstone Pass re-opens for Easter holidays

An iconic Lakeland pass will be re-opened for the Easter bank holiday weekend and school holiday fortnight, following completion of the latest phase of works on a multi-million pound road safety scheme.

Kirkstone Pass is re-opening later today (28 March) after completion of works including improving road drainage, installing new gullies and ‘catch-pits’ to catch scree washed off the fells and completing the installation of new wooden-clad safety crash barriers.

Kirkstone Pass climbs to an altitude of nearly 1,500 feet and is one of the highest roads in the Lake District and often suffers the impacts of severe weather.

The Department for Transport (DfT) ‘Safer Roads Project’ on Kirkstone Pass, which is being managed by Westmorland and Furness Council, includes building new drainage and culverts, resurfacing, new lay-bys and signage, all designed to make the pass safer and better protected from flooding and other weather-related impacts, so less prone to closures in the future.

This helps local communities and businesses that rely on the route and is good news for the many people who visit the area to appreciate one of the most popular areas of the Lake District.

Throughout the scheme the council has worked closely with the local community and businesses in the area to try to minimise disruption caused by this essential safety work, pausing works around the busiest holiday periods including this latest phase completed ahead of the Easter holidays.

A further closure of Kirkstone Pass will be required after Easter to complete the works.

Heavy snowfalls in December followed by the severe storms Isha and Jocelyn in January have meant some delays to planned work on the route, which was closed to all vehicles during the worst of the winter weather.

Following meetings with key stakeholders including local businesses, a further closure at the end of April has now been scheduled to complete the final phase of resurfacing, work that was originally planned during March.

The new two-week closure has been scheduled between 16 and 30 April, straight after the Easter school holidays, to minimise the impact on tourism businesses in one of the most popular areas of the Lake District.

Phil Greenup, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Assistant Director for Sustainable Transport and Highways, said: “Such a complex project being carried out in such a restricted location is always going to be subject to some extreme weather-related challenges, especially over the winter months, and unfortunately the recent timetable of works has been affected and we’re having to put in an additional closure to complete the scheme.

“Throughout this scheme we have been working closely with the local community and businesses in the area to try to minimise disruption caused by this essential safety work, and I want to thank them for their continued support and patience.’’

Despite the recent bad weather, progress on the scheme has managed to continue and new wooden-clad environment sensitive crash barriers are now in place.

The barriers on Kirkstone Pass are the first of their type on a major road in Cumbria.

Kirkstone Pass is in the heart of the Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and great care is being taken to ensure the current safety improvement works includes new infrastructure that complements the stunning surroundings.

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