Two major road upgrades for the north east have celebrated key milestones this week.
Yesterday marked the start of the main construction on the £220m A1 Birtley to Coal House scheme near Gateshead. When complete, said National Highways, it will boost the regional economy by improving journeys to the Newcastle and Tyneside area by increasing capacity, making journeys safer and more reliable.
National Highways has also widened and increased the number of lanes in both directions along the A19 in Teesside, between the Norton and Wynyard junctions, several months earlier than planned, creating swifter, more reliable free-flowing journeys. This regional investment is part of a suite of improvements along the A19 and A1, amounting to more than £560 million*, which have either recently completed or are on the ground, forming part of the Government’s commitment to levelling up regions across the country.
Minister for Roads, Buses and Places, Baroness Vere of Norbiton said: “Investing in infrastructure is at the heart of this Government’s plans to build back better and level up the North, so it’s fantastic to see works underway on the A1 and improvements on the A19 finishing early.
“Both these schemes will bring a wealth of benefits to communities and businesses in the north east by boosting capacity, cutting congestion and ensuring better journeys across the region.”
National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “We pride ourselves on managing and improving England’s motorways and major A roads to make journeys safer, smoother and more reliable, as we deliver the Government’s strategic roads investment programme.
“I’m delighted to see the completion of the A19 Norton to Wynyard work earlier than planned so drivers can experience the benefits. It’s also great news that we’re now commencing the main construction work to upgrade the A1 between Birtley to Coal House. “The A1 and the A19 are extremely important routes and these improvements, amongst the many others projects we’ve done – and are continuing to do in the region – will provide better, safer journeys and connections for our road users.”
Elsewhere along the A1 and A19 in the north east, National Highways:
- Has upgraded the A19 Testo’s junction with a new flyover where drivers can now travel along the A19 over the roundabout and benefit from new slip roads to the A1984.
- Is creating extra capacity between the A19 and the A1290 in Sunderland, on the Downhill Lane junction, supporting plans for the development of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), located in the area north of Sunderland’s Nissan Motor Manufacturing plant and major international supply chain companies.
- Is carrying out a range of improvements along the A1 corridor between Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead by increasing the number of lanes in each direction between junction 74 at Scotswood and junction 79 at North Brunton.
Meanwhile, the Birtley to Coal House scheme which started preparatory work in May has now begun its main construction phase. The work will see the road widened from three to four lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on the southbound carriageway and three lanes with an additional lane to help manage traffic joining and leaving the A1 between junctions 65 and 67 on the northbound carriageway. The existing Allerdene railway bridge, which carries the A1 over the East Coast Main Line, will be replaced and new bridges will also be constructed at junctions 66 and 67. National Highways will also introduce electronic signage to provide driver information along the road. The location of these signs has been agreed with Gateshead Council and in consultation with Antony Gormley’s studio in order to consider views of The Angel of the North. The iconic statue’s setting will be improved with tree planting within the boundary of the scheme to maximise visibility of the Angel.
Also, before delivery of the A19 scheme, Norton to Wynyard, which officially completed last month, congestion, delays and unreliable journey times were major problems for drivers, particularly during peak hours; and noise caused by the concrete surfacing was a prominent issue for local residents.
To solve these problems, around £65m* has gone into widening both carriageways and increasing the number of lanes from two lanes to three in both directions between the Norton and Wynyard junctions. It has also reduced the traffic noise from this section of the A19 by surfacing the concrete road, benefitting both local residents and the traveling public.
The scheme, delivered by Balfour Beatty Atkins as main contractors, will also support housing and employment developments in the Tees Valley region. Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director at Transport for the North, added: “These project milestones for the A1 and A19 are of great importance, not only for local travellers but also for those going further afield, and the improvements will have benefits for the wider economies too.
“Increasing capacity will make journeys safer, more reliable and reduce congestion, and also support new residential and business developments.
“These schemes are great examples of the importance of enhancing our strategic road network in the North to improve connectivity on a local and regional scale. As part of our regional strategic plan to help people and goods get around quickly, reliably and efficiently, they are important pieces of the jigsaw to help build a better North.”