DRIVERS face months of delays as city centre roads undergo a multimillion pound revamp.
Plans to create a modern “gateway” to the city were passed by the council in October, including a £13.4million facelift of the run-down St Mary’s Way area close to the Vaux site.
Plans include wider footways, trees, a planted central reservation and dedicated bus lane, as well as a “super crossing” to give pedestrians and cyclists direct access to the Vaux site.
But before plans can be put into place, British Telecom needs to divert telecommunications equipment to the back and side of Argos and other businesses nearby in High Street West.
Work is set to start on Monday and business have been warned it may cause disruption for arriving deliveries.
Proposals to remodel the dual carriageway, which runs alongside the Vaux site, were granted planning permission by Sunderland City Council in November.
The project is expected to take six months to complete, and a search has started for a contractor.
Council leader, Councillor Paul Watson, said: “It is inevitable that this scheme will involve some disruption.
“We will be working with the contractors and utility companies to ensure that residents, businesses and shoppers are informed of this and to keep any disruption to a minimum.
“I hope that everyone will be understanding and keep in mind the long-term plan. We are now beginning to see progress towards our long-term vision; both Vaux and Sunderland city centre will look and feel very different by 2014.
“For our city centre to be prosperous it needs more people living and working in it and a productive central business district, improved retail offer, new public space and better pedestrian access will help us to achieve our goals.”
Council planners hope improving traffic flow on St Mary’s Way will help connect the Port of Sunderland with major routes in and out of the region, which could increase the chances of new contracts in the future.