MOTORISTS in North Tyneside could be on the road to a future featuring fewer traffic jams now the government has given the green light for preparatory work to be carried out on plans for improvements to a congestion-hit junction.
The Department for Transport has picked a proposed revamp of the Silverlink junction as one of six schemes nationwide to be taken forward over the next three years.
No cash will be allocated for the project in that time, however.
A design is to be drawn up for the improvements proposed and consultation will be carried out, so the scheme will be ready to go ahead if it gets the thumbs-up when the next government spending review is drawn up in 2015.
Local government officials from both sides of the Tyne, MPs and business leaders have been lobbying the government over the last two years for further work to be carried out following the widening of the approach roads to the roundabout earlier this year.
They see such works as a key way to boost the borough’s economy and create jobs, especially now the two Tyne tunnels are open and more traffic is using the A19.
Borough mayor Linda Arkley is delighted at the news and is keen to move forward with plans to build a new flyover for the A19 over the A1058 Coast Road.
She said: “The recent smaller improvement scheme to the junction of the A19 and the Coast Road did provide a temporary solution to the congestion issues.
“However, the borough and the wider north east need to look to the longer-term future and how we are going to cope with increasing demand for improved transport links as we grow our economy in five, ten and more years.
“We have so many opportunities for growing this area through the enterprise zone designation along the north bank of the Tyne and our many business sites across the borough, so we need to know that congestion is not going to be an obstacle to that.
“I’m really delighted. This is fantastic news for North Tyneside.
“I’ve been asking the government for the rest of the funding for the Silverlink flyover.”
North Tyneside MP Mary Glindon added: “I am very pleased to hear that there is some positive news at last on upgrading the Silverlink junction.
“I met the minister to press him on this over a year ago and to tell him that the A19 is a corridor of opportunity but that substantial private-sector investment could be strangled without government investment.
“There are sadly no guarantees of funding, but it is a small step for the government and could be a large boost for North Tyneside.”
The A19 currently caters for 38,000 vehicles per day and the A1058 Coast Road is used 52,000.
Roads minister Mike Penning said: “We are committed to tackling congestion, keeping traffic moving and supporting the UK economy, putting in money where it’s most needed and where the public will get a good return on investment.
“We have already announced around £3bn of investment to complete work on Highways Agency major road projects under construction and to allow work to start before March 2015 on 20 much-needed road improvement schemes.
“I am confirming development work will be advanced on a further six schemes around the country.
“This means they will be in a good position to be selected for start of works in the early years of the next spending review period.”