Drivers could be advised to 'ignore their sat navs' when A1 dualling begins in Northumberland

Drivers could be told to “ignore their sat navs” in an attempt to avoid traffic chaos during work on the A1.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 2:42 pm
The A1 near Felton.

Work is due to begin next year on dualling the major route between Morpeth and Ellingham.

And bosses behind the scheme have insisted they are already prepared to manage the impact of closures and diversions on motorists – as well as families living near affected roads.

“We have strategic routes set up for Northumberland, should we need to close the A1,” said Mark Stoneman, project manager at National Highways.

“We’re talking to Transport Scotland about how we can capture traffic further north to do diversions there.

“And we will be talking to colleagues further south, to capture below the M62 for example, so we can really try to give HGV drivers in particular as much advance warning to make that choice whether they want to carry on or go in a completely different direction – that’s how far ahead we try to look.

“Sat nav is something we really need to try and reinforce while we put people on a diversion route, (telling them to) follow our signs and ignore their sat navs.”

Bosses behind the latest phase of A1 upgrades in Northumberland have predicted work could be finished by 2024, assuming everything goes to plan.

About 900 archaeological trenches were dug in preparation for work starting, but have yielded little more than Saxon pottery.

Following a public inquiry on the plans held earlier this year, recommendations have now been passed to the government, with a decision on whether or not the dualling can go ahead expected to be issued in January.

But despite the assurances, works bosses are being urged to ensure plans are in place as soon as possible, to keep the rest of the county’s road network running smoothly.

“[We need] clear signage to say that [a particular] road is closed and divert traffic on to the best possible roads,” said Isabel Hunter, county councillor for Berwick.

“If not, you’re going to have HGVs using sat navs on very narrow roads and if they start meeting traffic you will have bigger problems.

“Often the signage is on the road and people are not sure if something is closed or not.”

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporter