Press release

Major improvements for roads in the north east

The Highways Agency has a major programme of road improvements planned in the north east, with the region benefiting from over £500 million of investments to the road network beginning this year.

The focus of the work will be on the A1 north-south corridor between Leeming and Berwick. However, there will also be work taking place on the A19 and A66.

Highways Agency Regional Director, Vanessa Gilbert, said:

This is good news for road users across the region. We are carrying out a large programme of work, as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to invest in the economy and support growth. These road improvements will deliver benefits to drivers in the long term by tackling congestion, making journey times more reliable and improving safety.

Highways Agency Major Projects North Divisional Director, Jeremy Bloom, added:

We will begin work to upgrade the A1 between Coal House and the Metro Centre this summer. This newly extended scheme aims to improve journey time reliability, increase capacity, reduce the number and severity of accidents, and support local regeneration and development plans in the Newcastle and Gateshead area. This scheme will see 3.98 miles of the A1 widened to three lanes in both directions – an additional 3.05 miles to what was previously planned, meaning the Western Bypass will be improved from the Coal House junction up to the Metro Centre junction, not just from Lobley Hill to Dunston.

The A1 upgrade between Leeming and Barton, just south of the region, has now begun. Once completed, the existing 12 mile dual carriageway will be replaced with a new three lane motorway. This route carries between 59,000 and 69,000 vehicles per day and is the only section of non-motorway on the strategic M1/A1(M) route between London and Newcastle. The scheme will include provision of a new local access road alongside the new motorway, improving safety for local traffic from the surrounding communities. There will be a new grade separated junction at Catterick and an improved junction at Scotch Corner. The project is vital for the north east economy, it and will improve safety and journey time reliability between London and major urban centres in the north of England and Scotland.

A major programme of resurfacing work is also taking place on the A1 north of Newcastle, with 11 large schemes planned to take place from April 2014 to December 2014. Resurfacing work will also be taking place, on the A1(M) north of Durham.

The first of 4 pinch point schemes in the region will get underway in May. The A19/A689 Wolviston Interchange scheme near Wynyard aims to improve capacity and reduce congestion at this junction. Pinch point schemes are designed to deliver smaller scale improvements to the road network that will help to stimulate growth in the local economy, relieve congestion and improve safety. Further pinch point schemes in the region are planned for the A19/A174 Parkway junction in Middlesbrough, A1/A19 Seaton Burn Interchange and Fisher land junction in Northumberland and A19/A1231 Hilton Grange Interchange in Sunderland. These pinch point schemes will also begin later in May.

There will also be concrete central reservation barrier work on the A1(M) at junction 62 (Durham). This improvement work will replace the existing wire rope barrier in the central reservation with a new concrete barrier. Major resurfacing work will also be taking place on the A66 between Preston Farm and Elton and on the eastbound A66(M) east of Darlington..

Vanessa Gilbert added:

These schemes form part of a major investment in the region’s roads infrastructure. We understand that, while this will have a positive benefit for the region’s roads and economy, there will also be disruption to drivers during any road works.

We are making every effort to ensure the work is taking place in a co-ordinated way and that schemes are delivered in a manner that minimises the impact on drivers – but the number of schemes taking place means drivers will experience a greater number of road works over the next two years.

During any road works the Highways Agency advises drivers to plan their journeys and allow greater time to make the journeys while they are being delivered. Drivers can get up-to-the-minute travel information by phoning the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000 or by accessing the Agency’s website. Drivers can also download the Highways Agency’s iPhone app or follow updates via Twitter at @HAtraffic_neast.

Further information regarding current and planned roadworks in the north east region plus neighbouring regions, including the extensive programme of work in Yorkshire and Humber can be found on the Highways Agency website http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer