A large sinkhole has opened up overnight on a section of a busy North East road, causing a huge headache for motorists.
Motorists are being warned to expect delays after the hole - five metres wide and three metres deep -emerged on the A1 near the Lobley Interchange, northbound, at 11.45pm last night.
Police were contacted by Highways England and the section of road between Coal House (junction 67) and Lobley Hill (junction 68) is now closed while repair work is carried out.
Nobody has been injured and officers are working closely with Highways England to assist with traffic management.
A diversion is in place at Junction 67, with drivers advised to follow the Solid Triangle when leaving at the junction to pick up the local route through the Team Valley trading estate and re-join the A1 at junction 68.
However, it is expected that this diversion will be extremely congested, therefore drivers are asked to avoid the area unless absolutely necessary.
A police spokesman said: "Alternative routes for northbound drivers are the A19, A184 or A194 depending on the destination. Please also allow extra time.
“We don't have information when the roads will be re-opened at this time, but will keep update you throughout the course of the day.
"We thank motorists for their cooperation while work is underway to ensure the road is made safe for travel."
Highways England said emergency repairs are under way to restore the carriageway, describing it as a “serious defect”.
A spokesman added: “It will take significant effort, resources and time to complete this repair.
“Road users are advised to allow plenty of extra time for their journey. Early expectation is that the road will remain closed for all of today.”
The diversions were having the expected affect on the roads around the area.
Katie Caradonna wrote on Facebook: “Bumper to bumper towards MetroCentre all the way back to Washington Services.”
Sean Duffy added: “A sink hole with perfectly squared off sides... I suspect this is poor workmanship of a previously dug hole.”
* Highways England provides live traffic information available via its website HERE.