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A1: Road Traffic

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 12 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to reduce congestion on the A1 in (a) Tyne and Wear and (b) Northumberland. (255768)

The A1 through Northumberland suffers little in the way of congestion. Schemes to dual discrete sections of the A1 north of Newcastle are being considered for funding by the north-east region, as part of the current regional funding allocation process.

The A1 through Tyne and Wear suffers severe congestion at peak times, and this can extend to periods outside the daily peak, particularly if incidents occur. A number of measures have been carried out over the last few years to improve route performance. These include signing and lining improvements, a slow moving vehicle ban in peak periods, variable message signing (VMS), close circuit television (CCTV), the introduction of the traffic officers, free to customer breakdown recovery services, and the “Retriever” motorcycle which can get to incidents more quickly and tow vehicles up-to 1,600 kg in weight to recently built emergency refuges.

The Department for Transport publication “Britain’s Transport Infrastructure: Motorways and Trunk Roads” in January 2009 stated that the Highways Agency will continue to work with local authorities to consider further the options for relieving congestion on the A1 around Newcastle and Gateshead.

Following the earlier government study the Highways Agency is looking at options for upgrading the A1 Newcastle and Gateshead Western Bypass. This work is being informed by the outcomes of the Tyne and Wear authorities “People in Motion” demand management study, and findings of the agency’s work are expected to be considered in the first half of 2009.