Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has officially opened a £61 million A1 upgrade near Gateshead today (7 July 2016).
The new scheme will help tackle congestion and increase road capacity in the area, benefitting the 116,000 drivers that use the A1 every day.
The Highways England scheme covers a four-mile stretch of the A1 from Coal House (junction 67) to Metro Centre (junction 71) and drivers are now able to use an extra lane in each direction as well as two new local link roads.
Over 300 jobs have been created by the project, with 97% of the construction workers required coming from the North East.
Mr McLoughlin said: “This major upgrade to the A1 is part of the most ambitious, far-reaching road investment strategy for decades. It will not only benefit those who use the road every day but deliver jobs and opportunities, benefiting families across the North of England.
“Schemes like this are a crucial part of our plan to create a Northern Powerhouse, connecting our cities and towns and ensuring economic growth is spread more evenly across the UK.”
In total, eight miles of extra lanes have been added to the A1, increasing the number of lanes in each direction from two to three.
Two new parallel link roads have also been created along a third-of-a-mile stretch of the A1 between Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quays; 150,000 square metres of resurfacing has been carried out – the equivalent of 21 football pitches; and 12 miles of new kerbs have been laid, made from recycled plastic bottles.
Highways England project manager Lynne Biddles said: “This project has taken us less than two years to complete and will provide vital transport improvements on this stretch of the A1, reducing congestion and increasing capacity.
“The extra lanes will benefit the thousands of drivers who use the route every day, and the new link roads will mean local traffic will have a dedicated route between Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quays.”