Reckless motorists endangering themselves and others could force the closure of a city road.
European Way is currently eastbound approaching Pallion Junction, but is still open to westbound traffic, as work on the New Wear Crossing continues.
Now the council has warned it could be forced to close the road if motorists continue to ignore the lane closure which has been put in place while roadworks continue around Pallion Junction.
And Northumbria Police say the small minority of drivers who ignore the lane closure, and others who jump the traffic lights at Pallion Junction, will face consequences if they continue to flout the law.
All traffic that would normally travel east along European Way is being diverted along St Luke’s Road instead.
But recently motorists and cyclists have been seen travelling through the one-way system the wrong way, while others have jumped the lights – triggering the automatic safety device within the traffic signals that shuts the system down for two minutes, causing delays.
Putting lives at risk to save three or four minutes on your journey time is completely irresponsible. We don’t want to see European Way closed entirely, but neither do we want an accident, so we are urging road-users to act responsibly.Coun Paul Watson
The problem of motorists ignoring the lane closure has led the council to put out extra cones and signage, as well as locating its mobile CCTV camera in the area. The police are also going to put extra patrols out in the area.
Now the council says it will have no option but to close European Way in both directions unless motorists drive more safely.
Council leader Coun Paul Watson, whose Pallion ward covers the site, said: “Thousands of people use this junction every day – whether they are driving, on a bike or walking across the road. We also have construction workers doing important work very close to moving traffic in the area.
“Putting lives at risk to save three or four minutes on your journey time is completely irresponsible. We don’t want to see European Way closed entirely, but neither do we want an accident, so we are urging road-users to act responsibly.”
Northumbria Police Motor Patrols Sergeant Steve Minnikin said: “Officers are aware of the situation and will be on patrol in the area in both marked and unmarked cars to clamp down on any dangerous behaviour.
“Anyone found endangering other road-users could find themselves either being placed on a driver improvement course, handed a fixed penalty notice, including points and a fine, or even going to court.
“This is about the safety of everyone in the area – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and workers. Driving the wrong way down what is currently a one-way street is not just illegal, it is hugely dangerous.”
Four-way temporary traffic lights have been in place at Pallion Junction since spring 2016 as work got under way to upgrade the nearby road network in preparation for the opening of the bridge in spring 2018.
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director of FVB joint venture, formed by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction to deliver the new bridge project on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said: “Our construction team is doing some important work in the area and the limited space in and around the junction means they are working close to moving traffic.
“We appreciate that roadworks are frustrating and can cause delays, but the safety of our workforce and road-users is our priority. We don’t want a collision happening, so are appealing for motorists to drive in accordance with the traffic measures in place.”