Disruption concerns over second stage of A1 dualling in Northumberland

The man in charge of upgrading the A1 in Northumberland has said he will ‘help support the case’ for dualling the rest of the route in the county.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 3:34 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 3:43 pm
A visualisation of the proposals for the Charlton Mires junction of the A1 as part of the proposed dualling between Alnwick and Ellingham.

Mark Stoneman, Highways England’s project manager for the A1 in Northumberland, was speaking at last Thursday’s (March 21) meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

He and a colleague were giving a presentation on the proposals for dualling the five-mile stretch from Alnwick to Ellingham, which is currently out for public consultation and is one of three strands of the £290million project to improve the trunk road.

However, given the meeting took place in Berwick, it was not a surprise that questions were asked about dualling the rest of the road from Ellingham up to the Scottish Border.

Mr Stoneman explained that Highways England is a government company which carries out the work as directed by the Department for Transport – who are the ones holding the purse-strings.

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But he added that alongside Northumberland County Council and MPs: “We will help support the case for getting the investment.”

A development consent order (DCO) – a large-scale planning application – for the Alnwick to Ellingham section which, coupled with the dualling of the Morpeth to Felton stretch, will result in continuous dual carriageway up to this point, is hoped to be submitted towards the end of the year.

This time-scale would mean that construction starts in 2021 for completion in 2023. Morpeth to Felton’s DCO should be lodged this summer, with work starting by March next year.

The plan for Alnwick to Ellingham will see all the flat junctions where traffic joins from a standing start removed and direct accesses from fields and houses taken out too.

This means there will be a split-level junction at Charlton Mires, with a bridge over the A1 and a roundabout with the B6347, an overbridge at Broxfield or Heckley Fence, and new access roads to Eastlink Hall, Westlink Hall and Rock South Farm.

Unlike the Morpeth to Felton stretch, where a large part of the new dual carriageway is to be built offline to the west of the current road, the Alnwick to Ellingham section will be built online, expanding the existing A1 to the east.

This sparked questions from the residents in attendance about disruption during the construction.

Mr Stoneman said that a contractor for the scheme will come on board later this year and the details will be decided then, but ‘part of the mandate is to keep a two-way traffic flow’.

There will have to be some closures for work on the likes of the junctions and bridges, he continued, but these will be kept to a minimum and done at night with diversion routes on either side of the A1.

This in turn sparked questions about maintenance of the diversion routes and giving residents plenty of warning of when this would be happening. A Lowick man added: “I don’t want locals to pay the price for poor planning.”

Further north of Ellingham, there is no dualling proposed but there are improvements taking place to 11 junctions in total.

Work has been completed at Adderstone and will be finished by the end of the month at Fenham and Outchester. Schemes at Old Mousen and Newstead are also set to start this month.

Six other junctions – Cheswick, Warenford, Station Road (Belford), Haggerston Castle, Pudy Lodge and Fenham Hill – will be under way by the end of March 2020.

The consultation on the Alnwick to Ellingham section closes on Monday, April 8, with the final public event of four taking place at Alnwick’s Willowburn Leisure Centre on Saturday (March 30), from 10am to 4pm.