Residents have been given a chance to have their say on a £20million-plus relief road for Blyth, which could be built in 2023 subject to a funding bid to the Government.
The two main roads into the town, the A193 Cowpen Road and A1061 Laverock Hall Road, each carry over 20,000 vehicles a day and both suffer from congestion during peak periods.
This adversely affects the economic growth of the area, the movement of people and goods, particularly to and from the Port of Blyth, and also has a harmful effect upon the environment through exhaust emissions. The reliability of buses is also affected.
As previously reported, a high-level feasibility study has been carried out on five route options, with three of these being taken forward for detailed appraisal.
Northumberland County Council believes one of these routes – route three – provides the most benefits, but it wants to hear the public’s views.
Two consultation events took place in Blyth this week, on Wednesday and Thursday, while residents will have a further chance to have their say ahead of a preferred route being finalised.
Route three would be a new link road from Princess Louise Road to the A192/A189 Three Horseshoes interchange, costing around £20.7million, with the main issue being land acquisition, as a necessary four hectares is owned by the Chase Farm developer.
The council’s information states: ‘The route includes a short section of single carriageway through an existing allotment site.
‘There will be significant visual, noise and air-quality impact on Ogle Drive and surrounding areas.
‘A new road bridge or underpass is required to facilitate the road across the rail line.
‘The viability of the route is dependent on the land negotiations with the developer as well as the landowners of the agricultural land to the south of the rail line and Blyth Golf Club.’
A new north/south route which largely follows the route of the disused rail line has also been put forward which could potentially reduce congestion on the A193 Rotary Way.
One couple who attended Wednesday’s drop-in event welcomed the plans in general, but had some concerns about the preferred route.
Mr Hudson said: “They are decent proposals. Our personal objection is the preferred route – route three – they are talking about going right down back to Princess Louise Road up to Broadway Circle.
“Traffic at the Circle has increased five or six-fold in recent years because of all the new housing estates.”
Mrs Hudson added: “It’s going to be impassable if they add more traffic. There’s an awful lot of children there going from the school to the sweetie shop. It’s just an accident waiting to happen.”
The pair also doubted if the scheme would actually come to fruition, with Mr Hudson pointing out that the funding ‘always seems to end in Yorkshire’.
Mrs Hudson said: “We just don’t think it will happen because of the money aspect of it all. They’ve done it before, not as comprehensively, but they have done it and nothing happened.”
The next steps would see a design developed for the preferred route, after the feedback has been assessed, before another consultation is held and a funding bid is made to the National Roads Fund, a pot of £3.5billion for 2020 to 2025.
Ahead of the events, Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “Blyth is continuing to grow as a place to live, visit and do business, but the road infrastructure is struggling to cope and we have to work towards major long-term improvements.
“A new relief road would be a great boost for the town, as well as making it more attractive to new businesses, and we want local residents to play their part in the process.”
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, added: “The traffic problems around Blyth are well-known and we’re keen to find the best option for a new relief road which will make such a difference.”
The proposals are set to appear online today (Friday, February 22) with the option of completing an electronic survey. For more information, visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/blythroad
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service