Hopes rise for A1 dualling

Heavy traffic on part of the single carriageway A1 road in Northumberland.
Heavy traffic on part of the single carriageway A1 road in Northumberland.

Speculation is mounting that the dualling of the A1 in north Northumberland will be given the go-ahead later this year.

But despite reports in The Times yesterday, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said that it remains speculation and no decisions will be made until after the Government’s Spending Review in June.

Hopes of approval for the long-awaited scheme were initially boosted by the announcement of £3billion to improve road infrastructure in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget last month.

However, this money will not be released until 2015 – 2016 when other funding measures announced in the Budget will cover the costs.

And Sir Alan Beith MP said that this latest news was merely a reiteration of previous reports of Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander asking the DfT to carry out a study into the merits of A1 improvements.

“We are winning recognition that the A1 through Northumberland is a very serious candidate for any new money that becomes available for road building, but there are several competitors for funding and I am determined to keep up the pressure,” he added.

Nonetheless, dualling campaigners have reacted positively to Tuesday’s reports.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, campaign director for the Dual the A1 Campaign, said: “I am pleased that ministers are now seriously looking at allocating funds towards dualling the A1 through Northumberland.

“Today’s news is extremely positive, but the Dual the A1 campaign will go on until the upgrade is complete.

“This stretch of A1 had long suffered from a lack of political campaign effort for decades which is why I set up the campaign in 2007.”

Alongside safety concerns, she underlined the economic benefits of a fully dualled A1.

“We believe that investing in the dualling of the last 40 miles of single carriageway on the A1 would give the North East of England and Scotland an economic boost to draw inward investment to the regions, and encourage greater use of the North East’s economic assets,” she said.