A £150million package of road improvements to help traffic flows on the A19 in Sunderland and South Tyneside has been announced.
The scheme is designed to alleviate bottlenecks on the busy road by constructing new bridges and flyovers.
Today's announcement by Transport Minister Jesse Norman focuses on the preferred route for the Downhill Lane junction adjacent to Nissan and the planned International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
The proposals would see a second bridge added south of the current junction -presently a busy single bridge - which will cut journey times between Nissan and the A19 by five minutes.
The project team will now be moving on to the next step in the process, in the form of further design work next month.
There will then be a statutory consultation later this year and a planning application in 2018.
Proposals for the Testo’s junction would see a flyover built to bypass the roundabout in a bid to keep traffic flowing to and from the Tyne Tunnel.
The announcement came as part of a £6.1billion programme of road improvements unveiled as part of the government’s £23billion upgrade to the road network in England.
Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “What we are announcing is part of a much bigger set of projects over the next few months.
“The preferred route for the Downhill Lane junction is a pretty substantial piece of road remodelling, which is going to enable a lot of economic development at this new advanced manufacturing site next to the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
“The expectation is that the work will let traffic flow more freely, supporting the local economy, supporting a lot more jobs and a lot more economic development at that site.
“We are just at the route stage now and of course that will then go through further stages.
"The Downhill and Testo’s junctions are in the order of £150million – it’s a very substantial investment.
“The improvements at Silverlink cost £75million so we are talking about twice as much money again going into the roads and boosting connectivity.”
Paul Adal, Highways England project manager for the A19 Testos and Downhill Lane junctions, said: “The Downhill Lane junction, at the minute, is a single bridge as you come off the A19.
“Part of the proposal is to introduce a second bridge to the south that will link east to the A19 carriageway.
"Because the International Advanced Manufacturing Park is due to be developed as well, in the short term that's going to create 5,000 jobs.
"The Downhill Lane junction will be the primary access to that manufacturing park, so the intention is to provide extra capacity for these jobs being created and also reduce journey times from the International Advanced Manufacturing Park and Nissan to the A19, delivering about five minutes peak time journey time saving."
Mr Adal added: "I would ask your readers to keep an eye out for public exhibitions and online questionnaires as part of that process."
Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the North East Combined Authority (NECA), Coun Paul Watson said: "The A19 is a major piece of our region's transport and economic infrastructure so positive announcements on improvements and investment are always welcome.
"This is because by improving our transport infrastructure we help promote economic growth and our contributions to the national economy.
"The A19 here is integral to the ‘nationally significant’ International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) project that Sunderland and South Tyneside councils are developing.
"IAMP is earmarked for land to the west of the A19 and north of the Nissan site, and about attracting more than £300m of investment and 5,200 jobs.
"Infrastructure improvements at the Downhill junction and nearby Testos are a key part of the IAMP project and all part of the bigger picture that can help our region prosper.
"This is very welcome news."
Coun Allan West, lead member for Housing and Transport for South Tyneside Council, said: “We welcome this news.
“The A19 Downhill Lane scheme, situated just south of the Testos junction, will significantly increase road capacity and support our plans for the International Advanced Manufacturing Park.
“Along with Sunderland City Council, we have a shared ambition to develop a high quality strategic employment site that will attract national and international business investment and facilitate job creation.
“Good transport networks are key to boosting the borough's economy and maximising employment and investment opportunities.”