Chancellor urged to greenlight £100million South Tyneside road scheme

Artist's impression of the  A19 Testos junction improvement scheme.
Artist's impression of the A19 Testos junction improvement scheme.

The Government has been urged to give the green light to a £100million plan to transform one of the region’s busiest junctions.

A scheme to eradicate congestion at the Testo’s roundabout, where the A19 meets the A184, was approved in June 2014.

Testo's roundabout

Testo's roundabout

But more than two years on, there is still no official start date.

Now the North East branch of the Civil Engineering Contractor’s Association (CECA) has included the scheme on a list of ‘shovel-ready’ projects across the region it wants to see the Chancellor Philip Hammond give the go-ahead in his Autumn Statement next Wednesday.

Philip Hammond has pledged to make public infrastructure a “cornerstone” of his statement and Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green singled out the Government’s commitment to infrastructure improvement as a key part of Nissan’s decision to build two new models on Wearside during a visit to Sunderland last week.

CECA North East director Stuart Miller said it made sense to carry out the improvements – which will see the A19 carried over the roundabout on two bridges slightly to the west of the existing carriageway, and building connector roads between Testo’s and the Downhill Lane – before work began on the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park which is being developed close to Nissan.

What we are trying to do is make sure the local supply chain has the maximum opportunity to get involved with everything that is going on in the region.

Stuart Miller

“We need to think about the right order to do things and the right way to move forward to bring the most benefit,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is make sure the local supply chain has the maximum opportunity to get involved with everything that is going on in the region.

“Our aim is the make sure everybody gets a fair share of the opportunities available and as much of the work goes to as many local businesses as possible.”

Coun Allan West, South Tyneside Council Lead Member for Housing and Transport, said: “We are fully supportive of these major junction improvements at Testos, being coordinated by Highways England and already designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Highways England assistant project manager Helen Apps at a consultaion event

Highways England assistant project manager Helen Apps at a consultaion event

“The scheme is closely linked to the development of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and also provides greater connectivity to the local area and the wider region, supporting the council’s vision for a Strategic Western Gateway linking the A19 corridor into South Tyneside.

“We would welcome any government support that would accelerate this investment in the borough.”

North East of England Chamber of commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham said the Government had to address the north/south divide in infrastructure investment.

Figures released earlier this year show the Department for Transport is set to spend just £280 per person in the North of England over the next four years, compared to £1,870 a head in London.

The approved route for the A19 at Testo's

The approved route for the A19 at Testo's

“Businesses in the North East have suffered for far too long as a result of under-investment in our transport infrastructure,” said Mr Ramsbotham.

“Although some positive strides have been made the Testos roundabout upgrade is one of a number of improvements still required, to ensure the North East has the road network we need to succeed.

“Our region’s economy has been held back by infrastructure that isn’t up to the job - both North-South on the A1 and A19 and also East-West across the Pennines on the A66 and A69.

“It’s vital the Chancellor uses his Autumn Statement to commit to addressing these issues and strengthening connectivity of the North East.

“We fought to get the A1 Western Bypass improved and will campaign hard for these improvements as well.”

Treasury minister Jane Ellison responded to Stuart Miller and CECA (NE) chairman Steve Marshall’s letter: “While it would not be appropriate to respond in detail to points made at this stage, I assure you your suggestions have been noted.”

A19 north towards Testos

A19 north towards Testos