The A1 in Gateshead is one of the most congested roads in the UK. This is not a motorway status road but the need to improve it has been an issue for over a generation in Gateshead. I remember it cropped up in 1990-91, in my early years on the Council. The need for improvements has grown ever stronger and this stretch of the A1 now carries three times more traffic than it was designed for.
The Coalition announced in December that funding was being made available for the upgrade to take place. On Thursday, we got to see the plans for the first time. At a meeting in the evening with the Highways Agency (after my allotment meeting), we learnt that the road from the south of Lobley Hill to the Dunston junction will be upgraded to three lanes from the current two. In addition, there will be a separate lane in each direction for local traffic to travel between the Lobley Hill and Askew Road junctions. Local traffic mixing with A1 traffic is one of the biggest causes of congestion and accidents so separating the two is a significant step forward.
Work is due to start in 2014 and be completed in 2016. The Coalition are investing £60 million in the work. So, after decades of congestion, it looks as though the reputation of this road as being Tyneside's longest car park is about to end.