Preparation work has started on a major road link in South Tyneside ahead of a multi-million pound improvement scheme.
Cones have been put in place in the A19 near Testo’s roundabout as clearing of vegetation gets under way.
The work is being carried out in preparation of a £100m scheme to ease one of the area’s biggest traffic bottlenecks.
It will see the existing Testo’s roundabout – between the A184 and the A19 – being replaced with an overpass and improved roundabout.
The new junction aims to improve both safety and journey times in the area.
It is thought work on the scheme could get under way next and is expected to last two years.
A Highways England spokeswoman said: “Workers have started to clear vegetation as part of preparation work ahead of the start of the Testos scheme.”
Work to improve the road network is set to include:
• Raising the A19 carriageway above ground on an embankment and stilts and over the existing roundabout;
• Widening the existing Testo’s roundabout to incorporate new connector roads between the junction and the A19 main line;
• Creating parallel link roads between Testos junction and the adjacent Downhill Lane junction to the south;.
• Improvements to non-motorised user facilities through the provision of new and upgraded facilities.
The plans have been a long time in the making but have been made possible after the Highways Agency was given the green light from government officials.
Once completed, it is estimated more than 83,000 vehicles will be using the junction every day by 2033.
The work comes after the congestion-busting success of the £260million second Tyne Tunnel scheme.
The scheme is also closely linked to the development of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP).
The £41million business park – a joint scheme between Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council – could one day house more than 7,000 jobs. Last year, builders moved on to the 150-hectare site north of the Nissan plant, off the A19, to begin construction of the first factory.
Following a City Deal with the government in 2015, the site has attracted investment worth £41million through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) £270million Local Growth Fund for infrastructure, including new roads, bridges and environmental enhancements to support the development.