Businesses and residents in south east Northumberland could see major benefits if the A1 was made dual carriageway through the county, a report has revealed.
The claim is made in a report produced by Northumberland County Council that has now been passed to the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways Agency.
And it states that Morpeth could be one of three major towns to benefit directly from dualling the A1 north of the town.
The document estimates that dualling could result in 2,000 new jobs and 12,000 new homes, as well as generating £376m for the local economy.
And the local authority say there would be major benefits for Ashington and Blyth with the improved connection to the A1 once the South East Northumberland Strategic Link Road (Morpeth Northern Bypass) is completed.
Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is a key issue both for local people and the business community.
“We are keen to build a business case for dualling the A1 in Northumberland as well as looking at the case for investment in other transport projects along the route.
“This is the first time the council has carried out a detailed examination of the potential wider economic benefits of dualling.
“This has been a long-standing priority for the council and we believe dualling will address accident problems, reduce delays and bring clear economic benefits.
“We are fully in support of the Highways Agency and the DfT study and will be working hard to make our case at national level.”
The report states other benefits include:
n Promoting sustainable growth along the A1 route with better connections between markets;
n Supporting and promoting growth across a range of high quality business locations and service and manufacturing sector companies;
n Reducing business costs and attracting new businesses to Northumberland and the wider region as the road network becomes more reliable and efficient;
n Improving access to markets for existing businesses, both for their goods and to sources of labour;
n Enabling economies of scale and critical mass in employment growth areas;
n Complementing investment in the strategic road network in Tyne and Wear and North Yorkshire to the south and bolstering the case for more investment north of the border.
Evidence elsewhere also points to the strong wider economic benefits of highway capacity enhancement.
The council said the Department for Transport study will be completed in advance of a hoped for positive announcement in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.