Work on a massive £100million scheme to cut congestion on the A19 takes a step closer today.
The plans will see a fly-over carrying the A19 over Testo's roundabout, while the existing Downhill Lane junction will be turned into a roundabout, with a second bridge built to the south of the existing one, to increase capacity.
The first of two consultation events to canvas public opinion on the Downhill section of the scheme is taking place today at the Bunny Hill Centre in Sunderland.
The second event will be held from 10am until 2pm tomorrow at the Quadrus Centre on Boldon Business Park.
The proposals include plans to build a new bridge to the south of the existing bridge to create a raised roundabout above the A19 and construction of new slip roads connecting to the A19 and Testos junction.
Plans of various possible schemes for the downhill Lane junction and a video of the preferred option are on show today and tomorrow.
Highways England project manager Paul Ahdal said the scheme was part of the Government's Road Investment Strategy and was recognition of the national importance of the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park being developed near Nissan.
"With Testo's we forecast to start work in January 2019 and Downhill Lane would follow later in the autumn of that year," he said.
"The forecast is for both junctions to open for traffic in about the sporing of 2021."
Providing drivers heading to and from the Tyne Tunnel with a clear run would not only increase capacity on the road but would make it safer too, by removing the queues at Testo's.
The new scheme is intended to reduce congestion on what is already one of the region's busiest roads - used by 75,000 vehicles a day - for years to come and will create 180 full and part-time jobs .
"We have done a lot of traffic modelling," said Paul.
"It is not just in relation to what the issues are today, it is looking at what the potential issues would be in 10 or 15 years in the future and making sure we provide a long-term solution."
Improving both junctions as part of one scheme is intended to save money and minimise the effect on drivers and Highways England is working closely with both Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils to keep disruption to a minimum.
"We are looking to keep traffic flowing as much as possible," said Paul.
"There may be a need for some lane closures, but we will look to do this at non-peak times. We recognise the importance of keeping flowing regularly."