Highways bosses say road safety is the top priority as they invite the public to help choose a layout for a revamped A19 junction
A consultation is now under way over plans to upgrade the A19 at the Downhill Lane junction, following a preferred route announcement made in June.
Highways England says planned improvements will provide additional capacity and improve journey times and safety, while supporting economic growth in the region.
The proposals include plans to create a roundabout above the A19 by building a new bridge to the south of the existing bridge and realigning the southern slip roads which connect to the A19. The existing northern slip roads will become link roads to the Testo’s junction improvement.
Paul Ahdal, Highways England project manager for the Downhill and Testos project, said the consultation, which runs until October 22, is the next step in delivering the project, and the agency is hoping to submit a planning application in the spring.
If all goes to plan, work on the new junction will start in autumn 2019 and then open to traffic in spring 2021.
"This is the next step in delivering the project," Mr Ahdal said.
"One of the key things we are keen to hear from people about is the proposed options for non-vehicle users, like cyclists and horse riders.
"We are aware there is an issue with the junction and there are two options available.
"We want to hear what local people think to make sure that we get the scheme right for everyone.
"It is really important that they get in touch, even if it's just to say that they support what we are doing."
Last month, the Echo launched its Safe A19 campaign, calling on the Government to launch an inquiry into safety on the the road.
Our campaign is pressing the Department for Transport to listen to the voice of the North East and launch an inquiry into safety on the A19 over the number of collisions which put lives at risk and bring us to a halt all too often.
The petition, which can be found at https://www.change.org/p/department-for-transport-safe-a19-a-call-for-an-inquiry-into-safety-on-the-dual-carriageway-through-the-north-east has already attracted more than a thousand signatures.
Paul said: "I'm aware of the A19 safety campaign and health and safety is our number one imperative, so every project we do, that is at the top of our agenda, how we can improve health and safety.
"Like I said, there is an issue, particularly with cyclists crossing the junction at present in a manner that is not necessarily the safest, and that is why we have these two options in order to remove the conflict with live traffic.
"Also, we are aware that at peak times there is congestion around the junction, and, again that can be unsafe with queuing back onto the A19.
"By adding in the extra bridge to the south, creating that additional capacity, and, what Sunderland and South Tyneside are going to do with the local road infrastructure as part of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park – all these things will improve the safety of this junction."
For more information, visit the http://roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a19-testos-and-downhill-lane-junction-improvements/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.