THE Highways Agency was criticised again today after the A66 was closed for the third time in six weeks.

The vital link road connecting Teesside to the A1 was closed overnight from Monday and throughout the morning rush hour today. 

MP Ian Swales once again criticised the agency pointing out the road was closed at a junction at Long Newton, between Darlington and Stockton, which was improved at a cost of £12m just four years ago.

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The same junction was also closed after heavy downpours in late September and again two weeks later.

Mr Swales, Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar, said: “This is important for the entire Tees Valley economy. I’d like to know exactly who is accountable and, as far as I’m concerned, the public shouldn’t pay for any more work to improve the drainage in that area."

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency pointed out the amount of rain was exceptional. Rain had come from nearby fields overloading the highway drainage. The drainage system had in fact been designed to the Highways Agency’s standards.

There were major delays on the A689 road to Hartlepool and the A19 on Teesside today, and the Christmas light switch-on event in Middlesbrough was cancelled.