Eastern bypass route rejected in 1960s
Sir, I was most interested to read John Slack’s thoroughly sensible letter (Herald, 21st April).
In the early 1960s I was employed by Cumberland County Council — albeit in a junior position — and was lucky enough to be part of the routing survey team for the Penrith bypass, as it was then known. It was already agreed that this would be a motorway to link up with the Preston bypass (the first eight miles of motorway in the country).
I can recall that there were 54 different routes originally suggested, many of which were quickly discarded. Of these 54, there were only three routes east of the Beacon; these were examined more closely but were all discarded, not necessarily because of construction cost, but more on the grounds of ongoing maintenance costs, steep gradients and visual impact.
Back in the 1960s the national highways authorities, who have always been exceedingly accurate in their predictions of future traffic numbers, reckoned the A66 would become one of the main highways. You only have to watch television news from the North to see how often there is traffic chaos on the main roads north of Scotch Corner to see how right they were.
With this in mind, the “dummy exit” at Clifton to which Mr Slack refers was sited there 60 years ago since it was considered to be the most convenient position.
I hope some of my old colleagues might be able to get in touch and let me know if I am right or wrong in my recollections. Yours etc,