Councillor wants to know justification for A1 works

Vehicles queuing due to the traffic controls on the A1 near Tritlington.
Vehicles queuing due to the traffic controls on the A1 near Tritlington.
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A county councillor is calling for ‘clarity and an explanation’ in relation to work along the A1, which has been causing ‘significant delays’ to motorists for more than a month.

The traffic controls on the single-carriageway have been in place since Monday, February 22, limiting part of the stretch to one lane near the Tritlington/Ulgham turn-off to the north of Morpeth.

The work, to construct two new bus lay-bys, is set to be completed by Saturday, April 16, but it has led to lengthy queues for motorists.

Now, Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Longhorsley, wants to know more about the scheme, including the justification for the work.

He intends to ask questions at full council on Wednesday, wanting to find out the cost of the scheme to the taxpayer, how many bus passengers use the stops, if any injuries/accidents have been caused solely by buses stopping at these two locations and who was consulted. Coun Sanderson said: “There have been very significant delays and disruption caused to traffic because of the roadworks, which have also forced motorists to use alternative routes, like the dangerous A697.

“These works have not been as a result of road repairs or junction safety or widening improvements. The cause has been to provide two lay-bys for the occasional use of service buses. While everyone would applaud initiatives to increase the use of public transport, there appears to be a serious issue of value for money in this Highways England scheme.

“I’m not pointing the finger of blame, but I think people need to have clarity and an explanation about these works.

“It’s worrying that this money is being spent on this stretch of road which is earmarked for dualling – what does this say about the timescale of the dualling project and why are we spending cash on what could become a defunct bit of road?”

A Highways England spokeswoman said the work ‘will improve safety, provide better facilities for passengers using buses and reduce congestion by removing stationary buses from the A1’.

She added: “We remain committed to dualling the existing single carriageway sections between Morpeth and Ellingham which includes at Tritlington, as set out in our delivery plan. These new bus lay-bys improve safety and journey times as we develop proposals for dualling ahead of consultation later this year.”

Traffic signals had been in operation 24 hours a day, but work will now only take place from 8pm to 6am until completion of the lay-by scheme.

A county council spokeswoman said: “Inquiries should be made to Highways England because it is their scheme. The cabinet member for local services will respond to Coun Sanderson’s questions at Wednesday’s meeting.”