Road closure for Kirkstone Pass safety project

Picture of contractors working on the Kirkstone Pass road safety improvement scheme earlier this year.

Drivers are being advised of the next scheduled full closure of Kirkstone Pass to carry out work as part of a multi-million pounds road safety project on the iconic Lakeland route.

The improvement scheme restarted earlier this month following a planned break to avoid any disruption during the school summer holidays.

Works are currently continuing under traffic light controls, but drivers are reminded that the next full closure, which will be for a maximum of three weeks, will be starting next Monday, 2 October.

The road will re-open again ahead of the school half-term holidays at the end of October.

During the October closure, contractors working on the scheme will be excavating the entire width of the carriageway to support its full reconstruction. 

After October half-term, work will continue under temporary daytime traffic lights and some overnight closures leading up to Christmas.

The future overnight closures are planned for the following dates Monday to Friday from 9pm until 7am (weather permitting):

  • Monday 30 October until Friday 17 November 2023: For drain repairs and to begin installing new crash barriers.
  • Wednesday 6 December until Wednesday 20 December 2023: To allow further installation of new crash barriers, undertake more drain repairs and to make the road safe before works are stood down for Christmas. 
  • Wednesday 3 January until Friday 19 January 2024: To enable the contractor to continue with the installation of new crash barriers and further drain repairs. 

A further full road closure is scheduled to take place from 1 March 2024, to complete the resurfacing work. This closure will now span over four weeks, subject to weather conditions.

The ongoing Department for Transport (DfT) ‘Safer Roads Project’, which is being managed by Westmorland and Furness Council, includes building new drainage and culverts, resurfacing and installing new environment sensitive wooden-clad safety crash barriers and ‘catchpits’ to collect scree washed off the fells. More than 200 metres of new stone walling has so far been created, along with improved signage and three new lay-bys.

The work will help to protect the road from the effects of flooding and adverse weather and increase the safety and resilience of the route, especially during winter, resulting in fewer enforced closures in the future.

Careful planning means the works have been scheduled around the busiest school holiday periods, to minimise the impact on tourism businesses in one of the most popular areas of the Lake District.

All roadworks on Kirkstone Pass were removed before the start of the recent school summer holidays and the road was kept fully open during the busy holiday period.

Work is also currently taking place under traffic light controls to support essential bridge repairs at Cow Bridge.

Councillor Peter Thornton, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Assets, said:

“This is an important project after which the road will be in better condition and will be better protected from flooding and other weather-related impacts, so will be less prone to winter closures.

“All that is good news for the local communities and businesses that rely on this route and I want to thank them for their continued support and patience, while we carry out these improvements.

“We have also been working closely with the local community and businesses in the area to try to minimise disruption caused by this essential safety work, including ensuring we keep the road open during the peak visitor times around school holidays.

“We have regular contact with representatives from businesses and the local community and have responded to their requests, including rescheduling this next full closure from September to the start of October after listening to their feedback.

“This is a complex project being carried out in a restricted location. It is obviously not possible to work on the pass during the winter months due to the weather, but we are taking great care to plan our work around the busiest holiday periods.’’

More information about the Safer Roads scheme at Kirkstone Pass, including answers to frequently asked questions.

Video explaining more about the scheme, including drone ‘flyover’ footage of Kirkstone Pass highlighting some of the key issues being addressed.