The scheme, expected to take more than two years and cost about £125million, will see a new flyover and slip roads connecting the A184 Newcastle Road in a bid to cut journey times and tackle congestion.
But July saw the installation of cameras to monitor vehicle speeds as well as the general safety of driving on the motorway, which has seen limits slash to 40 mph and 50 mph around the major junction.
Stuart Culley, community engagement manager at Highways England, said: “They’re there for the protection of all – when you start narrowing lanes there’s increased risk to the public from travelling through those areas.”
A total of 14 cameras, six northbound, six southbound and two covering the eastern approach on the A184, have been installed around the junction and are recording 24/7.
Mr Culley was speaking at a meeting of the Hebburn Community Area Forum (CAF), where he also responded to criticisms about funding for the project.
He added: “We’re not here to compete with hospitals or the fire service, the government dictates the money spent on national infrastructure.
“But by improving the way the A19 flows, the aim is to improve the economy of the North East.
“Maybe the money could perhaps have been better spent and that’s one we could debate long and hard, but hopefully what we’re doing is of benefit to everyone.”
Q&A – questions from members of the public at Hebburn CAF and answers from Stuart Culley.
Q: Can’t the speed cameras can be turned off when there’s no work going on?
A: The speed camera aren’t just for the workers, they’re also for the drivers travelling on narrower lanes.
Q: Are the works on times?
A: At the moment we are, but there’s still a lot of features that need to be managed and one of those might be the weather – our work is very weather dependent.
Q: Are motorists taking notice of the speed cameras?
A: That information goes to Northumbria Police.
Q: Why not work 24 hours a day and seven days a week?
A: There’s always more activity that can take place at night, but then you also cause more disruption to local businesses and people living nearby.