Congestion fears for Sunderland city centre as work begins on new £70million road project
Sunderland Conservatives have welcomed plans for a new multi-million pound road scheme in Sunderland – but still say more should be done to tackle congestion.
The £70.8million project will create a new dual carriageway road through Pallion, running underneath the Queen Alexandra Bridge, into Deptford and onto the city centre and St Mary’s Boulevard.
While disruption is set to take place in the form of road closures and diversions, the finished road is expected to improve journey times and boost business in the city in the long-term.
Following the announcement, Sunderland City Council’s Conservative group say the plans could worsen existing traffic issues around the Wearmouth Bridge.
Transport spokesman for the group, Coun Peter Wood, said: “Being built with the full support of central government, SSTC 3 is a vital link in the city’s road network.
“It will help open up the southern bank of the river for economic development and bring jobs to the city.
“With the increasing uncertainty about the future of the UK motor industry the sooner this development takes place the better.”
He added: “The danger is that the opening of this new road will add to another problem which the council seems to be ignoring.
“That is the congestion in the city centre at the traffic lights at the roundabout immediately to the south of the Wearmouth Bridge.
“Tailbacks along St Mary’s Boulevard are already a problem, especially for traffic heading into the city centre itself and the Port.
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“Yet when I raised this issue at a recent meeting of the city council it seemed there were no plans currently to address the problem and stop the congestion worsening.
“The council should be working on those plans now – with a view to their implementation before the new SSTC3 dual carriageway is complete.”
Council leader of the Labour-run authority, Graeme Miller, agreed every town and city “must do more to alleviate congestion.”
He said: “To do that, we all have to think big, and develop and invest in our infrastructure which is exactly what we are doing with this project.
“The effort has to start somewhere and this dual carriageway, and the transport corridor that includes the Northern Spire, will massively improve traffic flow across Sunderland city centre.
“Especially around St Mary’s Way which is already benefiting from the opening up of both lanes on North Bridge Street on the north side of the Wearmouth Bridge, something that we believe has been warmly welcomed by residents and has already alleviated some congestion.”
He added: “As always we will keep the signalling under review and make the necessary improvements so that residents get the best out of this investment by the city council.”
The Government confirmed a £40.5million contribution towards the SSTC 3 project in March this year.
Council capital funding of £16.9million, an underspend from the Northern Spire project of £7.8million, and a Department for Transport local transport grant of £5.6million all contributed to the project.
Works compounds are now in place and people will see large-scale works and ground clearance in coming months.
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service