Work on a £51m A19 improvement plan is under way – six months ahead of schedule.
The Department for Transport has announced that work on the multi-million-pound improvement scheme at the Downhill Lane site, near Nissan’s Washington plant, has begun.
It said the early start on the improvements shows the Government’s “commitment” to level-up Northern transport infrastructure.
The scheme, led by Highways England, will significantly improve journeys through the busy junction, reduce journey times and ease congestion, including for the thousands of people working at the nearby Nissan factory in Sunderland.
Alongside the announcement, Transport Minister, Baroness Vere also virtually chaired the latest round of discussions with local members of the Northern Transport Acceleration Council (NTAC).
As well as discussing the numerous benefits the A19 upgrade works will bring to the region, the council will discuss various other local transportation projects that are a priority for northern leaders.
The Department for Transport launched the NTAC earlier this year, to give northern leaders a direct line to ministers to accelerate transport projects.
Transport Minister, Baroness Vere said: “I am delighted work has started early on this important road upgrade for the North-East; it’s another example of our commitment to levelling up northern transport infrastructure, and to bringing projects forward where we can.
“It’s also the sort of accelerated works we want to achieve through NTAC in the future, to help us build back better and create more reliable, more connected and better quality transport options.”
Chief Executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan said: “By bringing forward the start of this multi-million-pound scheme, communities in the North East will benefit from the economic growth, jobs and homes that large engineering projects of this kind create.”
Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director at Transport for the North, said the announcement is “promising”.
He added: “The A19 Downhill Lane project is one of the schemes highlighted in our Investment Programme, and we reiterated the need for early delivery of this and other road schemes this summer, so it is good to see investment coming forward and work getting underway.
“It is promising to see the Government listening to Transport for the North and our region’s business and political leaders and unlocking investment in these vital transport infrastructure projects.”
The A19 scheme is the latest example of Department for Transport investment in the region, following the completion of the new Nexus Metro Satellite Depot.
The depot, completed this month, is a key milestone in the Metro’s ‘Fleet Replacement Programme’, possible thanks to over £330 million funding from the Department for Transport.
NTAC is part of the Government’s wider efforts to use infrastructure investment as a way to lead economic recovery following coronavirus and to improve people’s access to opportunity and quality of life in the North.