'Minimum road closures' pledge during work to move Coast Road between South Shields and Whitburn
South Tyneside Council is looking to realign a stretch of the route between the Lime Kilns and the caravan site near Marsden Grotto to help extend the road’s lifespan by around 50 years.
The project was developed following specialist surveys which found “pinch points” caused by coastal erosion and the creation of cave formations.
Highways works will move the stretch of the A183 Coast Road inland by a maximum of 25 metres and away from the clifftop at the tightest point, while the existing road will be returned to grassland.
Following planning permission being granted on February 14, 2022, South Tyneside Council’s cabinet agreed the project’s next steps on March 16, 2022.
This included going through a compulsory purchase order (CPO) process to acquire the land needed for the scheme, which is owned by scheme supporters the National Trust, before moving forward with physical works.
Council highways chiefs have moved to reassure the public that the majority of work will take place “offline”and that the coastal route would remain open while the new route is built alongside it – before being “tied-in”.
They added that the contract for the work would aim to “keep traffic moving” as much as possible and to minimise disruption to residents.
“We will be marking out an official designated diversion while the works are being carried out and that will be along Prince Edward Road and down King George Road,” said Dave Carr, service lead for highways asset management.
“But you have to remember that most of the works are offline so there will be very few occasions where we actually have to divert traffic.”
The highways chief was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF) on Thursday, March 17.
He went on to say: “It’s only where we’re doing the tie-ins at the end that there will be traffic disruption and we will minimise that as far as possible.
“As part of the tender process we have asked the contractors to come up with their best possible process for minimising that disruption.
“The optimum outcome would be no road closures at all but if there are, they would be kept to a minimum.
“If need be, we can tweak the traffic lights in Whitburn to try and give the traffic the best chance to reduce the disruption”.
According to a presentation prepared for the CAF meeting, the highways project has an approved budget and estimated cost of £3.15million.
However, the appointment of a contractor and the placing of a contract is subject to the completion of the CPO procedure.
Subject to relevant permissions, the council is looking to start on site around July/August 2022 and to complete the scheme in March 2023.
Project bosses also said that details of any possible A183 Coast Road closures would be confirmed once a contract is awarded later this year.
Project manager, David Pringle, told the CAF: “Building the scheme is not hard but keeping the traffic moving and keeping everybody happy is.
“Keeping the traffic moving is half the job so [contractors] will be encouraged to do that.”