Today marks a year since the Prime Minister came to north Northumberland to announce £290million to dual and improve the A1.
That money was pledged for the dualling of the A1 from Morpeth to Felton, meaning dual carriageway as far as Ellingham, and improvements to junctions and crawler lanes on the section further north.
On December 1, 2014, David Cameron told the Gazette: “I have made it clear to the Highways Agency (now Highways England) that they can start spending today on the preparations necessary. They believe they will be able to get this started during the next Parliament (2015 to 2020).
“On the improvements north of Ellingham, they may be able to get started faster in terms of overtaking lanes.
“The work starts now, the money’s available now and they can get moving from today.”
In our editorial leader that week, we said that it would be naïve to ignore the fact that a General Election was less than six months away and that there had been a number of promises before.
However, we also pointed out that the scheme seemed to have gone further than ever before, with the commitment of £290million a major achievement.
And so far, steps seem to have been made in the right direction with traffic surveys taking place in July.
Further surveys and consultation with major stakeholders are happening and Highways England hopes to have finalised routes and agreement from landowners within the next nine months, enabling public consultation events to take place in autumn 2016.
The aim is to make recommendations on the preferred route for the dualling scheme in 2017, start construction on the north of Ellingham enhancements in 2018 and start construction on the dualling from Morpeth to Felton in 2020.
Of course, there remains disappointment that the A1 will not be dualled all the way to the Scottish Border, but this year, both Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, and Andrew Jones, the Roads Minister, have said there is no reason why further dualling could not be funded in future funding cycles.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Email the project team at: A1inNorthumberland@highwaysengland.co.uk