The dualling of the A1 south of Berwick could be a step closer, after it emerged that the UK government is negotiating several road improvement schemes.
Funding for the development is expected to be announced in this summer’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The news that funding is being sought has been given a cautious welcome by those campaigning to upgrade the main route from Newcastle to the Scottish border.
In last month’s budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced increases in spending on infrastructure projects of £3billion a year in an attempt to boost economic growth. “By investing in the economic arteries of this country, we will get growth flowing to every part of it,” he said.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, director of the Dual the A1 Campaign, welcomed the news that funding is being sought for the 40-mile stretch of road.
“I am pleased ministers are now seriously looking at allocating funds towards dualling the A1 through Northumberland,” she said. “The news is extremely positive but the Dual the A1 campaign will go on until the upgrade is complete.”
The campaign has been running since 2007, following consultation with thousands of people who feel a dual carriageway is the most important investment needed in Northumberland.
Since then, the campaign has been working with the business community in the north east to make the economic case for investment, alongside the safety case.
A survey found 91 per cent of businesses said the lack of a dualled A1 was the main barrier to growth, while Ms Trevelyan also stressed safety concerns.
“Safety reviews and data analysis shows us that the road is unsafe due to its single/dual nature. Indeed most accidents are not due to weather or alcohol, but unfamiliarity with the difficult road layout.”
Berwick campaigner Alex Gibson, who lost his son, also Alex, in an accident on the A1, also welcomes the prospect of funding.
He said: “I was pleased to see the government has come to its senses. It is long overdue, and I hope the 11,000-plus signatures that were handed in to Downing Street, plus 12,000 online signatures, have raised eyebrows in Whitehall.”
He added:“I know they’re only considering it but it is looking promising.”
This caution was mirrored by Berwick Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith: “We are expecting the results of the study on A1 improvements which Treasury Minister Danny Alexander asked the Department of Transport to carry out,” he said.
“We are winning recognition that the A1 through Northumberland is a very serious candidate for any new money that becomes available.”