Major road upgrades costing £220m have started on the A1 at Birtley.
National Highways began the main construction on a scheme to widen lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on Wednesday, December 1.
The government-owned company promises the project will boost the regional economy by improving journeys to Newcastle and Tyneside, by increasing capacity and making journeys safer and more reliable.
Chief executive Nick Harris said: “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.”
What changes will be made?
The Birtley to Coal House scheme 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 built at junctions 66 and 67.
National Highways will also introduce electronic signs for drivers. 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.
Preparation work began on the project in May and it is due to open to traffic in spring 2025.
Upgrade to A19 on Teesside 'complete'
Wednesday's construction milestone follows the completion of another multimillion upgrade to the A19 on Teesside, between the Norton and Wynyard junctions.
Work finished last month - several months before earlier than planned.
National Highways said £65m was spent on widening both carriageways - increasing the number of lanes from two lanes to three.
The project was prompted by "delays and unreliable journey times" for drivers, particularly during peak hours.
Surfacing work has also reduced the traffic noise from this section of the A19.
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.”
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