A Highways England boss has apologised for the 'timing of our announcements', but the full closure of the A1 in north Northumberland will still go ahead next month.
Earlier this week, residents and business owners raised serious concerns over proposals to close a four-mile stretch of the A1, from south of the Wandylaw junction to Adderstone Services, in both directions, 24 hours a day for two-and-a-half weeks from Friday, March 2.
Highways England said that the impact had been 'carefully considered' and that the full closure meant the work would be done quicker, but one of the main complaints raised at Monday's meeting at Purdy Lodge at Adderstone was that nobody had been informed or consulted about it in advance of the statutory notice appearing in the Gazette last week.l
Today, highways officials met Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Northumberland County Council to detail plans.
Highways England’s regional director, Richard Marshall, said: "It is clear mistakes were made in the timing of our announcements and we apologise for this. It was always our intention to engage with those affected by this closure, starting next week.
"This includes visiting residents and businesses directly affected by the closure over the next two weeks and speaking to them about their requirements. We have also agreed today to look at the programme to see if there is a more appropriate time in March to start this work."
Plans are already in place to give access through the roadworks to key services and residents within the closure who will be escorted through the work area including bin collections, Royal Mail and school transport. Should an emergency vehicle need access to this section of the A1, work will stop immediately and it will be escorted through.
By fully closing the A1, Highways England will greatly reduce the duration of the work taking place. If the work took place overnight, it would take three months to complete.
The resurfacing needed along this stretch of road is much deeper than traditional resurfacing which means it will take a longer time to cool meaning that traffic management could not be removed before morning rush hours.
Mrs Trevelyan said: "I am disappointed that, despite lengthy discussions today, Highways England remains committed to the full closure of the A1 at Wandylaw to Warenford in March. I have sought their concrete assurance that this closure will be done with the minimum of impact to the local communities, businesses, and residents, and that there will be reasonable access at all times for residents alongside the four-mile stretch that is closed. Highways England has assured me that there will be 24-hour access to all emergency vehicles, and the work will be carried out continually over the 17-day period.
"Critically, Highways England has apologised for their lack of prior consultation with local residents about the closure and has promised to hold a public meeting with the local communities over the coming weeks. I have demanded that this meeting is held as soon as possible, following a door-to-door impact survey Highways England are carrying out next week of residents and businesses in the affected areas. The council and Highways England are committed to working together to ensure there is clear and accurate signage both on the A1 and the local roads.
"I will continue to press Highways England for regular updates, maintaining pressure on them to consider the vital needs of my constituents at each step of this consultation period."