The long-awaited refurbishment of a 130-year-old bridge is to go ahead as part of a £23m package of improvements to roads in the North East, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced.
As well as cutting congestion, the measures are designed to create jobs and boost the economy, he said.
Speaking to The Journal at Westminster, Mr McLoughlin said the Department was also still considering major road improvement projects such as proposals to upgrade the A19 in North Tyneside. Further road funding is expected to be announced in the Government’s Spending Review on June 26.
But the Transport Secretary confirmed Government funding of £16m for immediate improvements in the North East, while another £7m will come from local authorities and the private sector.
Projects getting the green light include the full structural refurbishment of the 130-year-old bridge across the River Tyne between Ovingham and Prudhoe in Northumberland, with an estimated total cost of £3.2m.
And a £7.5m scheme to rebuild a 300-metre length of the B6344 road near Rothbury, Northumberland, will also go ahead. The road had been closed since December after parts of the ground beneath it slid down a slope, destroying much of the surface.
The announcements were welcomed by local MPs. Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman said there had been fears Ovingham Bridge would be closed, but now the structural repairs would meant it “could continue to serve local residents for many years to come”.
Berwick Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith said the funding for the B6344 followed a visit to the road by Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
He said: “This is excellent news for the village of Rothbury and the surrounding area, and I am very grateful to Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander who visited the site of the landslip in January and saw for himself the severity of the collapse, and to Transport Minister Norman Baker for recognising how important it is to get the road re-opened.”
Other projects to receive funding include:
Improvements to cut congestion on the A167 in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, between the junctions with the A1(M) and the B6313, at an estimated cost of £3.1m.
Roundabouts and bus lanes providing access to the Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead at a cost of £3.4m.
Improvements to three junctions on the A188, including the busy Four Lane Ends junction and nearby lanes for cyclists and pedestrians in North Tyneside at a cost of £3.3m.
Improvements to three junctions on the A19 as it meets the A1231, A183 and A690 west of Sunderland, at a cost of £2.6m.
Mr McLoughlin said: “This Government is taking action on both jobs and growth.
“The schemes we have announced today are designed to target key bottlenecks around the country, making life easier for the thousands of motorists and businesses who use the local road network every day.
“Investing in these schemes shows that the Government is serious about accelerating growth where it is needed most.
“These schemes have the potential to help create more than 100,000 jobs and around 100,000 new homes. I look forward to seeing works under way as soon as possible.”
Investing in these schemes shows that the Government is serious about accelerating growth