A road to a brighter future
Motorists are being asked to have patience while three major roadworks take place at the same time.
Work has begun on improvements to Holystone roundabout and the A191 on its approach to Cobalt Business Park.
It means that commuters are faced with further rush hour disruption caused by projects taking place at Billy Mill roundabout and Silverlink roundabout.
Officials at North Tyneside Council say that the three projects are only taking place simultaneously after two bids for external funding were approved, with no option to delay the funding of more than £20m.
Deputy chief executive Paul Hanson told the News Guardian: “It was a call – do we take the cash and tackle the issues and we know it will make the borough more sustainable and easier to get around, or not.
“We appreciate motorists’ patience on this. We’re aiming to make it easier for everybody.
“We thought people would rather take a couple of years of disruption for a better future.
“We wouldn’t do three major schemes at the same time and while doing Silverlink.”
Work to replace Billy Mill roundabout at the end of the A1058 Coast Road with traffic lights is due to be completed early next year. But the £7.2million project, which has already seen Beach Road widened, will then see work take place at the nearby Norham Road junction.
The existing bridge over the Coast Road will be replaced by a wider road, with two lanes in each direction, and new traffic signals installed. Work is expected to finish in December 2017.
As part of the Holystone project, the A191 will be widened to two lanes in both directions leading to Cobalt Business Park, while parts of the roundabout will be expanded.
The £5.1million scheme is expected to finish in early 2018.
And at the same time, the Highways Agency is currently creating a three-decker roundabout at Silverlink’s junction with the A19 and A1058, with the £85million project expected to be completed in 2019.
Mr Hanson said: “In 1988 there was 2,000 cars using Billy Mill roundabout at peak times, now it is 60,000 cars. The junction wasn’t going to survive.
“Norham Road bridge is at the end of its design life so we’ve taken the chance to replace it.”
Once the Billy Mill scheme is completed, Mr Hanson said that Lynn Road would be re-opened to all traffic, with the bus camera removed.
Speaking on the increased traffic, he added: “More people are on the roads, avoiding Billy Mill and Silverlink, basing their decisions on thinking it is worse than it is. We’re saying it is easier to use Silverlink but there is a significant amount of displaced traffic.”
Concerns have been raised that existing roads – such as Seatonville Road and Rake Lane – will not be able to cope if 3,000 more homes are built on Murton Gap if the council’s Local Plan is put in place.
And Mr Hanson said he agreed, which is why the Plan includes a new link road from North Tyneside General Hospital to Earsdon, helping to keep the roads moving, although he stressed nothing had been proposed yet.
And he said they hoped two proposed Metro stations could help take more traffic off the roads, if they went ahead.
North Tyneside has seen its population grown in recent years and more activity on its business parks – Cobalt, Quorum and the new Indigo Park – all resulting in more cars on the roads.
To alleviate the problem, the council made bids to the Local Growth Fund and Pinch Point Funding to carry out the work at Billy Mill roundabout and Holystone roundabout.
Mr Hanson said: “North Tyneside is really prosperous and we’ve got a growing population. So because of that it’s a good place to set up business.
“We know from residents’ surveys that roads and pavements are really important. We have 90 to 100 schemes a year taking place, such as resurfacing, parking and changing road markings. Another important step is improving cycle paths. We have earmarked £1.7million for a cycle path going alongside the Coast Road.”
Work has already taken place to turn the roundabout at Four Lane Ends into a new signalised junction while improvements have been carried out on the A191 Whitley Road/Front Street. Officials are nearing the end of work to improve Sandy Lane in the north west of the borough as part of the infrastructure changes around the new Indigo Park business park.