The Government has signalled a further move forward in the battle to see the A1 dualled, an MP claims.
Berwick Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith said he has met Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary of the Treasury, to discuss the detail of improvements for the A1 north of Newcastle.
The move follows the Spending Review details of the last week which boosted calls to transform the A1 between Newcastle and Scotland into a dual carriageway.
Mr Alexander announced plans to improve the A1 – potentially upgrading 40 miles of single carriageway between Morpeth and Berwick – as part of a £100bn infrastructure spending programme.
The Government said they would conduct a feasibility study into improving the road, but no cash was earmarked to the project.
But Treasury Minister David Gauke said the move was the first stage to getting building work under way, and now Mr Alexander has signalled the study will be on the actual design, Sir Alan said.
He added: “The Chief Secretary has assured me that there is provision for dualling parts of the A1 in the allocation of funding, and that the study to be carried out is not about whether the work to improve the road should be done but is a technical study on road design.
“I will continue to hold regular discussions with ministers and keeping up the pressure for the study to be carried out quickly and effectively.”
The spending review announcement was broadly welcomed in the North East, with funding confirmed for schemes to ease congestion with a flyover which will cut congestion on the A19 by taking it over the Testo’s junction, which links the A19 and the A184 south of Newcastle.
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “For a long time we have lobbied the Government to back North East business and allow us to fulfil our potential. These announcements are a step in the right direction.
“On top of investment already announced for the Western bypass and A1 between Leeming and Barton, these proposals form a welcome shot in the arm for the region and represents a genuine success for NECC lobbying and the NEvolution campaign.
“I have no doubt our business will deliver a significant return on this investment and provide outstanding value for money. The Government must now ensure that these projects are delivered with all possible haste to unlock the undoubted capacity of the North East’s business community.
Other measures announced by Mr Alexander included a separate feasibility study into proposals for a £75m relief road built to ease traffic problems on the A1 Western Bypass between Lobley Hill and the A184 Askew Road, which is the nation’s third-most congested route.
There will also be increased capacity on the East Coast Main Line and local services in Newcastle, with new trains introduced for inter-city services, and 31 schools will be rebuilt in the North East.
Another £600m will be distributed directly to businesses nationwide through the regional growth fund between 2015 and 2016, to create private sector jobs. This is on top of the £2.4bn already allocated nationally.