Work on a £125 million scheme to cut congestion and journey times for drivers on the A19 was set to start today.
As part of a major upgrade, the A19 will be raised above the existing Testo’s roundabout and new slip roads will be built to connect the roundabout to the A184.
It will eventually mean a free-flowing A19 for drivers heading to and from the Tyne Tunnel and improve joiurneys to the planned new £41million International Advanced
Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and the busy Nissan plant in Sunderland.
The work is expected to last two-and-a-half years, but Highways England say two lanes will remain open in both directions on weekdays and where possible, one lane will remain open in
both directions overnight.
New routes will also be provided through the junction for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, while access between Testo's roundabout and the Downhill
Lane junction will also be provided using new road links.
Highways England senior project manager Tom Howard said: "Testo’s roundabout and Downhill Lane regularly suffer from congestion, particularly at rush hour, so these major improvements are vital.
"We can take great pride from the fact that this major work will benefit the region.
"“It means the junctions will be able to cope with the extra volume of vehicles, and in the process, we can help the local economy by improving access to the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and Nissan plant."
Coun Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Housing and Transport at South Tyneside Council, said: "This scheme is crucial to the success of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
"With the park expected to create more than 7,000 jobs over the next decade it is vital that we have the right transport infrastructure in place to support it.
"The A19 is one of the region’s key assets and these improvements will not only increase capacity, reduce journey times and reduce congestion, but promote economic growth and maximise employment and investment opportunities."
On the north side of the Tyne Tunnel, work to build the North East’s first triple decker roundabout at the A19 and A1058 Coast Road junction is nearing completion.
The £75million is due to be completed at the end of this month.
The latest work is part of the government’s £13 billion investment to improve journeys across the north.