Full closure of A1 still planned despite roads chief apology
The full closure of the A1 in north Northumberland will still go ahead next month.
Residents and business owners have raised serious concerns over proposals to close a four-mile stretch of the A1, from south of the Wandylaw junction to Adderstone Services, in both directions, 24 hours a day for 17 days from Friday, March 2.
Highways England said that the impact had been ‘carefully considered’ and that the full closure meant the work would be done quicker, but one of the main complaints raised at a meeting at Purdy Lodge was that nobody had been informed about it in advance of a statutory notice appearing.
Last Friday, highways officials met Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Northumberland County Council to detail plans.
Highways England’s regional director, Richard Marshall, said: “It is clear mistakes were made in the timing of our announcements and we apologise for this. It was always our intention to engage with those affected by this closure, starting next week. This includes visiting residents and businesses directly affected by the closure. We have also agreed to look at the programme to see if there is a more appropriate time in March to start this work.”
Mrs Trevelyan said: “I am disappointed that, despite lengthy discussions, Highways England remains committed to the full closure of the A1 at Wandylaw to Warenford.”
Plans are already in place to give access through the roadworks to key services and residents within the closure who will be escorted through the work area including bin collections, Royal Mail and school transport.
Should an emergency vehicle need access to this section of the A1, work will stop immediately and it will be escorted through.
By fully closing the A1, Highways England will greatly reduce the duration of the work taking place. If the work took place overnight, it would take three months to complete and the method required means traffic management could not be removed before morning rush hours.
Mrs Trevelyan added: I have sought their concrete assurance that this closure will be done with the minimum of impact to the local communities, businesses, and residents, and that there will be reasonable access at all times for residents alongside the four-mile stretch that is closed.”
Coun Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North on Northumberland County Council, said: “While appreciating Highways England’s plan for major resurfacing roadworks that they feel are necessary to improve our roads, the planned closure of the A1 south of Belford for two weeks will be very distruptive.
“This is not acceptable and surely could be done by closing one lane at a time, so that the road can remain open. Full closure will have a hugh impact on the community and for the residents of Berwick. With the last minute consultation and objections this should not proceed until alternative options have been explored.”
Council leader Peter Jackson added: “While it was a constructive meeting I remain angry about the lack of information given out and the unacceptably short period of consultation, for which Highways England have apologised to me. Giving just a few weeks notice for a major scheme which will shut a strategic route through our county and seriously impact thousands of residents is not acceptable.
“We raised a number of local concerns and Highways England have promised to speak directly with affected residents and businesses in the next few days.”
“While this situation is far from ideal we have worked to achieve a number of concessions from Highways England during these major roadworks.
“We are working with them to minimise the impact on the local community and our road network arising from their planned closure
“It is our expectation Highways England will be meeting all reasonably incurred additional costs associated with this particularly given the significant level of savings that their total road closure offers, when compared to night time closures.
“It is clear from our meeting that this is not just the normal resurfacing which we are used to but a major reconstruction of the fabric of the road down to its very foundations.
“Not only is this work necessary it does reinforce the calls for full dualling of the A1 along its entire length and we will continue to pursue every avenue to press for this to happen.”