BUSINESS and civic leaders today welcomed plans to unblock one of the region’s biggest transport bottlenecks.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill yesterday confirmed plans for a £100million scheme to eradicate congestion at the A19 Testo’s roundabout.
Three schemes were put out to consultation and the preferred option backed by Government involves carrying the A19 over the roundabout on two bridges slightly to the west of the existing carriageway, and building connector roads between Testo’s and the Downhill Lane junction, from which the A19 will no longer be accessible.
“The A19 corridor is of vital importance to the North East and is part of the Government’s £24billion investment in our road network over this Parliament and the next,” said Mr Goodwill.
“Once completed, the new junction will improve both safety and journey times in the area, contributing towards this country’s long-term economic plan.”
Yesterday’s announcement means land needed for the scheme can be protected from other development. Further consultation will be carried out to help design the route in more detail.
Work could start by the end of the financial year 2016-17.
Sunderland City Council leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: “The A19 is a major piece of the region’s transport and economic infrastructure.
“This announcement, plus other associated works, show how important the A19 is for all of us.
“Investing in Testo’s will help progress our City Deal and the development of an advanced manufacturing park on land to the north and west of the current Nissan site, creating thousands of new jobs.”
Paul Woolston, chairman of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said work to reduce congestion on one of the region’s key routes would be a big boost to the North East economy.
“We welcome the announcement that improvements are to go ahead at Testo’s junction, which is a key bottleneck in the region’s transport system,” he said.
“There is compelling evidence that investment in transport makes the maximum impact on productivity, job creation and gross added value when it improves the area’s strategic connectivity.
“Improved transport links are a major theme in the LEP’s North East Strategic Economic Plan, and we are delighted to see progress at Testo’s and at the A1 Coal House to MetroCentre improvements and the widening of the A1 Western Bypass.
“Whether it’s the A19, A1, intercity rail, or routes to and from the airport and the ports, the North East LEP is engaged in productive and detailed debate with providers and funders on improving our national and international connectivity.
“The Adonis Independent Economic Review reminded us how important access to international routes is: the LEP is ensuring that these routes are open, growing and getting faster day by day.”
North East Chamber of Commerce policy and research manager, Mark Stephenson, said: “This is another step in the right direction towards addressing the major infrastructure challenges our region must overcome if we are to meet our true economic potential.
“It is now up to the Government to deliver this £100million project as quickly as possible – hopefully without excessive interruptions to the local economy.
“After dire levels of infrastructure investment, the North East has secured more projects in 18 months than in the previous decade.”