FEARS have been raised for the safety of fans walking to Sunderland’s Wear-Tyne derby.
As tens of thousands will head to the Stadium of Light, SAFC Supporters’ Association chairman George Forster is worried about the disruption caused by roadworks near the Wheatsheaf pub.
“You take your life in your own hands crossing over the road,” he said.
“I’m very concerned about the current arrangements, or lack of arrangements, for pedestrians during the roadworks at the Wheatsheaf.
“This is particularly dangerous on a matchday because supporters can’t cross in front of the pub.
“There has been no allowance made for the large number of supporters who access the stadium from the Roker Avenue area.
“This causes people to walk outside the barriers on the road, to avoid a long diversion down North Bridge Street.”
“If you’re clever enough, there’s a little lull in the traffic where you can cross, but it’s a risk.
“Surely barriers and walkways could be temporarily arranged to allow supporters safe passage.”
The roadworks at the Wheatsheaf gyratory are part of the multi-million-pound Tesco development, which should be complete by spring 2013.
But the works have also affected business at the supporters club shop.
George said: “We rely heavily on match-day programme sales, but if people are going to find it difficult to get here, they will get them off the sellers.
“After the Wigan game we were stuck with 40 spare programmes, instead of about 10.
“I’ve cut the order for the Newcastle game, where usually I’d increase it.
“We’re still open for business and appreciate those who still come to find us.”
Sunderland City Council cabinet member for city services Councillor James Blackburn said: “In the interests of road safety while major roadworks take place at this junction, the pedestrian crossing has been suspended with people urged to find alternative routes until construction work is complete.
“There are alternative traffic signal controlled pedestrian crossing points on North Bridge Street; at Dundas Street, 140 metres to the south of the Wheatsheaf and also at Dame Dorothy Street.
“Similar alternative safe crossing points are in place across Roker Avenue at the junction of Fulwell Road and across North Bridge Street at the entrance to the Stadium of Light Metro station.
“The city council is working closely with Barr Construction, which is undertaking the works on behalf of Tesco, to ensure that the works are completed with as little disruption to the travelling public as possible .
“We appreciate that this situation is not ideal and apologise for any inconvenience caused by the slightly longer walk required to reach these alternative crossings.
“We would, however, urge pedestrians to act responsibly and allow extra time to make their journeys on match days.”