A1 Western Bypass is set for multii-million pound improvements

Highways Agency wants to add a third lane between the Metrocentre and Coal House junctions

Project Manager Lynne Biddles with the A1 improvement structure plans
Project Manager Lynne Biddles with the A1 improvement structure plans

Multi-million pound plans have been put together to upgrade the A1 Western Bypass.

The proposals involve adding a third lane on the road in each direction between the Metrocentre and the Coal House junctions.

In addition, there are set to be new parallel link roads between the Lobley Hill junction and the A184 Gateshead Quays turn-off.

The Highways Agency says the project was developed to help ease traffic congestion in the area and improve journey times.

In 2011, the average weekday traffic flow in the area was more than 116,000 vehicles - more than double the capacity it was originally designed for.

And accident figures taken over the last five years show there were 40 incidents on this section of the A1, resulting in 60 casualties - an average of 12 per year.

It is hoped the extra lanes will help to improve capacity.

In addition, drivers who travel between the Lobley Hill and Gateshead junctions will have separate parallel roads - taking traffic away from the A1. At the moment, around 400 vehicles use that section during the morning peak time alone.

Project manager Lynne Biddles said: “Our original scheme covered 1.8km between the Lobley Hill and Dunston Hill junctions.

The A1 western bypass in Newcastle
The A1 western bypass in Newcastle
 

“However, we have since identified potential savings during the design and planning process, and we are looking at extending the scheme to 6.4km - going all the way from the Metrocentre to the Coal House Junction. That whole length will have an additional lane.

“We are putting together a business case for the extended scheme, which will be looked at by the Secretary of State and we are expecting a decision by the Spring.

“We are confident that we have a positive business case.

“Once complete this project will bring major benefits. It will increase capacity and ease traffic congestion significantly.”

It is estimated the scheme, including development and construction, will cost around £68m.

The plans were put on display at the Dunston Activity Centre yesterday and members of the public had a chance to see the designs.

Among the visitors were retired couple Carole and Bill Moore, of Crawcrook.

Carole, 71, said: “The A1 suffers from severe congestion, especially at peak times. We use the road to go to the Metrocentre and we travel up and down a lot. But we avoid going at peak times all together.

“We think the plans look great. It’s a fantastic idea and will help to improve the road.”

The agency is hoping to invite tenders for the work this month and contractors are expected to be appointed in the summer.

The aim is to open the new roads to traffic by summer 2016.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer