An £8.1million road improvement project to tackle congestion and a bottleneck junction is due to begin later this month.
The works, which will go on for 12 months, aim to alleviate congestion at the bottleneck junction of the A185 and A194 – the Arches - in South Shields.Work will begin on January 29.
The project involves:
• Changing the Arches and Hobson Way/Elswick Way roundabouts into signalised junctions
• Providing a new one-way link from Hobson Way to Jarrow Road as well as converting the section of Jarrow Road to one-way between the extended Hobson Way and the A194
• Widening the A194 towards Hobson Way/Elswick Way junction to enable two right turning lanes onto Hobson Way
• New and improved pedestrian and cycle routes
South Tyneside Council is warning drivers to leave extra time for their journeys once roadworks begin at the end of January.
Councillor Allan West, the senior councillor responsible for housing and transport in the borough, said: “The project aims to relieve the bottleneck at the Arches, where the A194 meets with A185, which has seen a significant increase in traffic flows since the opening of the second Tyne Tunnel.
“We know how frustrating delays can be for motorists and this scheme should reduce journey times in and out of South Shields as well as providing enhanced pedestrian and cycle facilities.
“The works on the highway will generally be completed in off-peak periods so people travelling in rush hour should experience minimal disruption.
"I am sure, once complete; the improvements will be of huge benefit to those who regularly use this route."
The peak periods the council says workers will aim to avoid are 6.30am to 9am and 4pm to 6.30pm.
The first phase will involve removing both the Arches and Hobson Way roundabouts and the central reservation in between. All existing lanes will remain open during peak periods*. Outside these times, lane closures will be in place and drivers are advised there may be delays.
Coun West added: “Improving strategic transport links is a key part of the council’s economic vision. It’s vital that we have the right infrastructure in place to be able to support sustainable growth.”
Construction firm Galliford Try is carrying out the work on behalf of South Tyneside Council.
Bob Gibbon, managing director of Galliford Try's highways arm, said: "We're looking forward to making progress at the Arches following the success of the Lindisfarne roundabout project. We want to keep disruption to a minimum and, working closely with our client, will provide plenty of advanced notice of traffic management changes."
Roadside signs are now being put in place advising drivers of the forthcoming works, which are scheduled to last for 12 months.
The project received £7million from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) as part of the North East Growth Deal from Government.
The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport across the North East LEP area.