£51million new A19 Downhill Junction is a bridge to the future

A £50million-plus scheme to transform a busy A19 junction is officially complete.

By Kevin Clark
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 2:56 pm

The A19 Downhill Lane scheme provides extra capacity on the junction, between the A19 and the A1290, in Sunderland, improving access to the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) being built near the Nissan plant and follows last year’s opening of the new-look Testo's roundabout.

A new bridge for walkers, cyclists and even horses is part of a £51.6 million upgrade of the road near the Japanese car giant’s factory and was officially opened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, March 16.

As well as the new footbridge – which has been paved with noise-reducing tiles to minimise the impact on nearby houses – the project has involved the construction of a second road bridge next to the existing on, creating a new full roundabout at the junction .

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Official opening of the Downhill Lane footbridge. From left Sunderland Council Group Enginer Paul Muir, Costain Project Manager Mark Denham, National Highways Project Manager Helen Burrow, National Highways Regional Delivery Director Tim Gamon and South Tyneside Council Deputy Leader Coun Joan Atkinson.

Project manager Helen Burrow said she was delighted with the progress of the project, which had finished weeks ahead of the planned date.

“It has gone really well,” she said.

"We started in September 2020 and we have finished it on time - in fact, it was supposed to open in May, so we are two months ahead of schedule.”

The new footbridge

The new footbridge was a critical part of the overall plan, she added: “It is very much part of the scheme – it completely separates walkers, cyclists and horse riders from traffic and opens up a safe route across the A19 to Nissan and the IAMP when it comes on line.

"So it is not just about sustainability, it is about safety as well.”

The decision to completely close off local roads rather than impose short-term closures had been the right one, she added: “The original plan would have been to do periodic closures, but this way people did not get caught out, they knew the roads were closed full stop. It also made it safer for the workers.”

South Tyneside Council deputy leader Joan Atkinson said the junction was a key part of ensuring the long-term prosperity of Sunderland and South Tyneside, with the IAMP and Nissan’s new battery plant under development.

A view of the new-look Downhill Lane junction from the new bridge

She said: “It is about providing access to high quality jobs and it will be critical going forward as more of these jobs will be coming to IAMP and the gigafactory.”

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The bridge is now open to the public