Three lane plan for A1 in Newcastle comes with 50mph limit

Plans to narrow roads on A1 from the River Tyne up to North Brunton are under discussion at Newcastle City Council

The A184 Junction of A1 which is set for improvements
The A184 Junction of A1 which is set for improvements

Extra lanes could be added to a traffic-plagued stretch of the A1 - but it will mean drivers dropping their speed to 50mph.

Planners at Newcastle Council have revealed they are in talks with Government officials at the Department for Transport over a £100m A1 improvement plan.

If it goes ahead, it could see a the road from the River Tyne up to North Brunton given an extra lane on each side, making it three lanes in each direction.

But because it would cost around £1.7bn to actually widen the road, planners are looking into making the existing lanes narrower, and eating into the central reservation to create the extra space.

That would mean motorists would have to drive through the section at a 50mph limit.

Harvey Emms, Newcastle’s planning and transport director, said discussions were ongoing and that the council was hoping for news on funding in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The move follows announcements earlier this year that the A1 Western Bypass would be handed cash to widen into a three lane road through Gateshead.

Highways Agency official James Finch told a planning inquiry that the plans would bring in extra capacity to a notorious road.

Speaking of the Western Bypass through Gateshead, Mr Finch said: “It is one of the worst congestion hotspots in the motorway network.”

The hoped-for Newcastle investment emerged at the latest day of the public planning inquiry into the One Core Strategy. The Gateshead and Newcastle document paves the way for 30,000 new homes as well as shops and roads, over the next two decades.

Planning inspector Martin Pike heard from former Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins, who said there was a marked lack of clarity on much of the Labour-controlled council’s plans.

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That concern extended to a proposed new road through Newcastle’s outer west. Initial plans for the road had City planners wanting to link up the A1 at the North Brunton junction to the A69, passing through Newcastle Great Park via the A696 near the Callerton Parkway Metro Station. Almost as soon as the bypass plans were published the council faced claims they had developed a dual carriage way in secret, and the road plans were eventually watered down to a single lane series of linking roads.

In an embarrassing moment for Newcastle Council, Mr Pike told those gathered at the Gateshead Civic Centre inquiry that the lack of a clear roads plan was concerning.

“I’m quite surprised by the lack of clarity around the current proposal,” Mr Pike said,

Mr Cousins added to council woes, saying: “The difficulty we all have here is looking at a link road that may not even be a link road between the A69 and A696. Residents throughout this process have understood that the council has being changing its plans, not unreasonably, but we would expect that by this point in time it would be if this was indeed a link road or a series of access roads.

“To find ourselves here this morning unclear about it, I just don’t think that is acceptable.”

Mr Pike added: “You have expressed in more detail the concerns I was discussing. As I said, I find this very surprising.”

Newcastle Council strenuously denied there was a lack of clarity around the link road.

A spokesman said: “We have presented evidence to the enquiry on the link road proposal and it will become clearer when the inspector decides to examine the issue.”

If the plans go ahead the three lanes of traffic in either direction on the A1 will run from Scotswood Bridge up to the Great Park roundabout, also known as North Brunton interchange.

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