Highways England has received the go-ahead from the UK Government for the £1bn trans-Pennine (A66) transformation scheme.

The key northern route A66 connects Penrith in Cumbria with Scotch Corner in North Yorkshire and serves as the link to the Lake District and North Pennines to the east of England.

According to Highways England, plans are underway to completely dual A66’s remaining single carriageway sections, which total 18 miles of the 50-mile route.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are investing a record £13bn to improve journeys across the North of England.

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“Dualling the A66 will not only mean drivers’ journeys are quicker, safer and more reliable across the Pennines, but is part of our pledge to ensure that the business opportunities of the Northern Powerhouse spread out from the great cities of the north of England to every city, town and rural community from the Midlands to the Scottish Lowlands.”

Highways England noted that upgrade of the A66 route is expected to improve connectivity from Scotland to the east coast of England and Belfast’s port traffic, through Stranrear, onwards to ports, including Hull and Felixstowe.

A public consultation on route options has been launched to seek ideas for dualling the remaining sections of the single carriageway of the A66, linking the M6 and the A1(M).

The consultation will be open until July this year. After this, the preferred route announcement (PRA) will occur in the first quarter of 2020.

“The A66 connects businesses, communities and families across the north of England.”

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “The A66 connects businesses, communities and families across the north of England, and this highly anticipated upgrade is great news for the local, and regional economies and will improve the national road network.

“We’re pleased to be going out to the local community to consult on the options for the scheme. I would like to thank all our local partners who have supported us to get the project to this stage and I would encourage everyone with an interest in the scheme to get involved with this consultation.”