The first turf has been cut to start work on the Morpeth Northern Bypass.
Contractor Carillion has wasted no time getting on with the work following approval of the £30million scheme from the Secretary of State for Transport last week.
The 3.8km long bypass will run to the north of Morpeth, from Whorral Bank roundabout to the A1 trunk road between Fairmoor and Lancaster Park.
The Department for Transport will provide the lion’s share of funding, with Northumberland County Council investing £9million.
The 18-month project is the second phase of a link road between south east Northumberland and the A1 following the completion of the Pegswood Bypass in 2007.
Council Leader Grant Davey and Policy Board Member for Streetcare and Environment Ian Swithenbank joined council officers and Carillion for the turf-cutting today to mark the start of preliminary work.
With this prompt start, we hope to bring in all the major benefits of this scheme at the earliest opportunity.Grant Davey, Northumberland County Council Leader.
Coun Davey said: “This strategic road is set to greatly improve links to and from towns in the south east of the county, helping to cut down journey times and support economic development.
“With this prompt start, we hope to bring in all the major benefits of this scheme at the earliest opportunity. This will include the potential to trigger the creation of over 5,300 jobs across south east Northumberland, and between 1,700 and 3,000 jobs in Morpeth, with an estimated £47million economic benefit to the county.
“It will also help to alleviate traffic pressures in Morpeth and on the outskirts of Cramlington, as well as open up new areas for possible development, supporting the future vitality of south east Northumberland.”
Coun Swithenbank added: “This project has been a very long time coming and to see the first piece of turf cut has formed a huge milestone.
“Work in earnest will be under way soon, and I look forward to seeing progress on construction of this extremely important link road.
“Delivering the project will be a challenge, but we have an excellent team on board and I am confident that we will be able to deliver on time and within budget.
“We look forward to working with Carillion and are encouraging local suppliers to work with us and help deliver the scheme, and boost the local economy during the construction phase.”
Carillion has been awarded Phase 2 of the design and build contract after agreement was reached on the target cost for the project.
People can follow the development and construction of the project at www.morpethnorthernbypass.org