Motorists warned of up to six months of delays on major commuter route
Gateshead Council predicts potential tailbacks on the A184 Felling bypass, used by commuters from Sunderland and South Shields to travel and from Newcastle, when essential works begin at Heworth roundabout.
The roundabout, which is supported by a series of bridges carrying the road over the Network Rail and Metro lines beneath, needs repairs after engineers detected water seeping into the bridge structures.
If left unchecked, the council says, this water could cause serious and irreparable structural damage to the bridges.
The work is expected to take up to six months to complete and will start later this year once the necessary permission have been received from Network Rail,
The A184 Felling bypass either side of Heworth roundabout will be reduced to a single lane in each direction although efforts will be made to retain both lanes for as long as possible.
There will also be occasional full road closures at nights and at weekends as required. Bus lanes will remain operational.
In addition, local access will be affected with the closure of the A185 Shields Road between Heworth roundabout and the Maiden Over pub and between Heworth roundabout and Sunderland Road.
These routes will be closed to all traffic except buses. Low Heworth Lane, with its access to Heworth North long-stay car park, will remain open.
Anneliese Hutchinson, service director for development, transport and public protection at the council, says: “This is a major route into Tyneside and we know this is going to be unwelcome news for many commuters, but we need to act now.
“If we allow the damage being caused to these bridges under the roundabout to continue, we will have a much bigger problem to deal with in the future, and one that would take a lot longer and be more costly to put right."
She added: “Motorists will probably ask why we can’t wait till next summer to start the work as some people will believe that the traffic is always much heavier in the run up to Christmas, but the figures for the Felling bypass don’t really bear this out.
"On average, more than 42,000 cars use this route every day with very little seasonal variation so there is no apparent reason to delay as we really need to get this done to prevent further damage.”
The council has put together a comprehensive Q and A on its website which explains the work and provides details on how to plan your journey by public transport at www.gateshead.gov.uk/heworthroundabout