North East's first triple decker junction opens

The North East's first triple decker junction has officially opened to drivers.

The £75million Highways England Coast Road scheme opened yesterday and more than 80,000 vehicles a day are expected to use the new section of road.

Highways England project manager Julie Alexander at the new junction. Picture by Jane Coltman

Highways England project manager Julie Alexander at the new junction. Picture by Jane Coltman

This means that drivers will no longer have to negotiate the Silverlink roundabout and can continue straight on along the A19.

Highways England project manager Julie Alexander said: "This exciting engineering project to create the North East’s first triple decker junction will improve safety and journey times while supporting economic growth in the area.

“We have been on site for over 1,000 days, worked in excess of 1million hours, and during that time over 80million vehicles have used that junction. It has been fascinating to see this junction take shape and now thousands of drivers will benefit from quicker, smoother journeys.”

Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, said she is delighted that the underpass is open to traffic.

Traffic using the new triple decker junction. Picture by Jane Coltman

Traffic using the new triple decker junction. Picture by Jane Coltman

“The A19 is extremely important to the regional economy and this improvement will have a number of major benefits for residents and businesses in both North Tyneside and the wider area, by reducing congestion and therefore supporting our efforts to improve air quality, improving road safety and helping to ensure we have a road network to attract investment and job growth to our borough.

“The new junction will also help alleviate some long-term traffic issues and vastly improve access to the Silverlink Retail Park and Cobalt Business Park, our largest employment site.”

The overall improvements will translate into huge benefits for the economy.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “The Government is investing record amounts to improve travel and transport for people up and down the country - including £13billion on transport in the North.

An aerial view of the site last month.

An aerial view of the site last month.

“This new junction - the first of its kind in the North East - will reduce journey times for drivers and cut congestion, boosting the local economy.

“It also builds on other improvements in the region - such as the new Northern Spire Bridge and the remodelled St Mary’s Boulevard - where drivers are already seeing the benefits of investment.”

James Keogh, senior project manager at John Sisk and Son, said: “John Sisk and Son are very proud to have delivered the A19 /A1058 Coast Road junction improvement scheme on behalf of Highways England.

"It has been a very challenging project and will substantially reduce congestion in the area. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the stakeholders and local residents for their patience and support throughout the project.”

How the roundabout used to look in June 2016.

How the roundabout used to look in June 2016.

The massive engineering project was designed by WSP.

Some road facts:

It has used 87,265 tonnes of stone, that’s the same weight as 2,240 Metro trains

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art could be filled four times with the amount of soil that has been removed from site (more than 220,000 cubic metres)

The amount of steel used would be the same weight as the Angel of the North 16 times (3,250 tonnes)

The amount of concrete used on the scheme (16,800 cubic metres) could fill nearly seven Sunderland Aquatic Centre main swimming pools

The whole junction has been resurfaced, the amount, 24,500 tonnes, would be the same weight as 2,042 double decker buses

More than 580 concrete rotary piles have been installed to support the structures

55 concrete bridge beams weighing up to 76 tonnes and over 23 metres in length have created the base for the three new road bridges

Two new pedestrian and cyclist bridges have been created

1,800 people have worked on site, including six graduates or apprentices

27 school visits have taken place in the area, speaking to 6,444 schoolchildren

Volunteers have built sheds and created outdoor play areas for local groups

260 tonnes of used road surface and 160 metres of anti-climb fence have been donated to local groups and businesses

A time capsule has been buried on site and is due to be opened in 2118

There will be some overnight closures in the next month to complete the landscaping, traffic light and footpath work.