Drivers facing major disruption as junction work begins

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DRIVERS face up to 18 months of disruption as work gets under way on a major Sunderland junction.

An overhaul of the Wheatsheaf gyratory system is part of the planned development to build a new Tesco at Sunderland Retail Park, due to open in spring 2013.

Traffic Regulation Orders have been made by Sunderland City Council, which mean road closures can now be put in place.

Businesses and residents in the area fear the impact could lead to lost custom and potential chaos.

Roads affected include North Bridge Street, Millennium Way, Southwick Road, Rosebery Street, Newcastle Road, Wearmouth Street, Monk Street, the entrance to Sunderland Retail Park, Roker Avenue, Shore Street and Portobello Lane.

Ann Jasper, owner of Zigs Hair Studio in Rosebery Street, is worried.

The 51-year-old said: “We’ve had letters over the last few months about Tesco being built and saying we could object if we want, but we’ve had nothing about Rosebery Street being closed to traffic.

“This is my business and I can’t afford to lose any customers.

“At the end of the day, everybody fights for clients and this is the last thing I need.”

“We want a better future and I know it will bring business to the area, but a little bit of communication would have been nice.”

Jeremy Stephens, works in George’s Cafe, North Bridge Street, also fears the closures affect trade.

He said: “I hope they really think about when they close the roads and what is going on in the area – the Airshow, football, the Olympic Flame, gigs at the stadium.

“Blocking stuff up with no regard for access – and taking their time about it – will only enrage everyone.”

Rosebery Street resident Lynda Reynolds said: “I’m not looking forward to it, the noise is already really bad.

“It’s going to affect a lot of people in the area.

“I get the bus, just over the road, to see my father everyday. So if all these roads around here are going to be shut that is going to be a problem.”

Fellow Rosebery Street resident, David Emerson was also unaware of the upcoming disruption.

The 48-year-old Royal Mail worker said: “Roker Retail Park was going downhill, so I think that this new Tesco will be a good thing for the area.

“I was totally unaware though that the street would be shut down at times though.

“I think it’s going to cause a good bit of disruption.”

Diversions will be put in place when the changes begin.

Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson said: “Highway works are to be undertaken in conjunction with the new Tesco retail development at Roker Retail Park.

“This will improve traffic flow along North Bridge Street and the Wheatsheaf gyratory.

“It is envisaged that the majority of routes will remain open during the bulk of the work with minimal disruption to motorists and businesses.

“Traffic management and signing will be in place at least seven days before work begins, contact details for queries regarding the works will be provided as soon as these become available.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho