Boost for drivers as technology to cut congestion gets green light

The project is aimed at reducing journey times in the North East.
The project is aimed at reducing journey times in the North East.

Drivers have been promised smoother journeys after the North East secured more than £3.5million of funding aimed at cutting congestion.

The funding will see traffic signals upgraded on key routes in the region.

A total of £3.64million – which includes £2.8million from the Department for Transport – will be invested in helping to cut congestion and improve journey times across the North East Combined Authority (NECA) area.

NECA is the seven councils which serve County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Traffic signals will be upgraded with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, Variable Message Signs (VMS) and integration with public transport data from Nexus.

The new technology means the cameras can be monitored from the regional Urban Traffic Management Centre (UTMC), allowing officers to adjust signal timings where necessary to improve traffic flow and provide better and reliable journey times.

Coun Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and transport lead for the North East Combined Authority, said: “This funding is great news for commuters and business and will help cut journey times across the area.

“We have a great facility here in the North East where we work together across the area to monitor the traffic network across local authority boundaries.

"This new investment means we can connect up traffic signals across key routes so we can smooth our traffic flows where we see congestion building up and adjust traffic signals right across the network to keep traffic moving at peak periods.

“Providing reliable journey times and improving connectivity across the region is also a real benefit for our local economy as it helps people to access jobs and training and supports the efficient transport of goods.”

Newcastle City Council submitted the funding bid on behalf of the NECA for the expansion of the UTMC.

It was one of 76 successful projects across the country to win a share of £244million.

The remaining funds were secured from local authority contributions.