Roads minister Robert Goodwill has said the number of accidents on the A1 is “not acceptable” and he will look at the case for improvements.
During a visit to the region to meet Highways Agency project managers, the Conservative echoed hints George Osborne made this week in an exclusive interview with The Journal.
The chancellor called the strengthening the route, which is one of the main roads up to Scotland, “really important” and committed to “taking a really close look” at the case to improve the A1.
Now, the roads minister has highlighted infrastructure as key to economic recovery in the North East.
The minister said plans for the A1 must get the balance right but that there were concerns about accidents on the route.
“The level of accidents up there [on the A1 north of Newcastle] is not acceptable and we need to see what we can do,” he said.
It comes as the A1 Coal House to Metrocentre improvements are set to get underway later this summer.
Once completed, the scheme will result in 3.98 miles of the A1 being widened.
It will be changed to include three lanes in both directions alongside a new 0.33 mile parallel link road that will be built adjacent to the main line A1, for north and south-bound traffic, between Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quays.
This will provide a route for local road users and keep traffic moving on the A1.
The scheme was originally limited to improvements between Lobley Hill and Dunston, but an extension was confirmed by the Coalition in April, following the identification of £19m savings during the design process.
“It is really important that we invest in reliable infrastructure as congestion and delays cost businesses money,” said Mr Goodwill.
“If we have got trucks in queues wasting fuel and wasting time we can’t bring people to the area to look at potential investment.
“We have tripled the roads budgets compared to the last government.”
It comes as the North East was handed a £15m share of funding to tackle potholes on the region’s roads following a series of floods and frosts.
Government cash is also being pumped into work on A19 junctions, including at the Silverlink, in North Tyneside as well as the A1 Western bypass, Mr Goodwill said.
A year before the election, the Chancellor has turned his attention to the North, setting out plans to create a Northern ‘powerhouse’ to rival London.