Roads chief defends full A1 closure in Northumberland

The A1 at Adderstone Services at the northern end of next month's closure.
The A1 at Adderstone Services at the northern end of next month's closure.

A Highways England boss has said that the impact of a full closure of the A1 in north Northumberland next month has been 'carefully considered' and will mean the work gets done much quicker.

Yesterday, we reported that residents and business owners have 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.

Today, Highways England has confirmed that the work will start from 8pm on Friday, March 2. Depending on reasonable weather conditions, it expects to complete the carriageway renewal by 6am on Monday, March 19.

The authority says that clearly-signed diversions will be in place via the A697 between Morpeth and Berwick with signed diversions also provided for local traffic, while adding that the planned closure is expected to add around 20 minutes to normal journey times.

One of the complaints raised at yesterday's meeting at Purdy Lodge at Adderstone was that nobody had been informed or consulted about it, including the county council.

However, Highways England says that information on the closure and the diversion will be posted to 11,800 residents and businesses in the area in the next week 'as planned' and that 'it consulted with Northumberland County Council about this closure and received support for our approach, but we appreciate that it will have an impact on both businesses and residents during this period'.

Highways England’s David Wheatley, the head of scheme delivery for Yorkshire & North East, said: "This major reconstruction work will mean better journeys for people on the A1 between Wandylaw and Warenford in Northumberland.

"We do understand the concerns raised, but can reassure everyone we have carefully considered the impact of the closures and that includes avoiding any public and school holidays, and the main tourist season.

"We have to close the road as the whole carriageway, not just the top layer, is extensively damaged and to fix it we are using a special paving machine which takes up more than one lane.

"If we did the repair work overnight, it would take almost three months to complete, but, by closing the road 24 hours a day, we can use day and night shifts to do the work in around two weeks, the shortest time possible.

"We apologise now for any inconvenience caused and are writing to 11,800 residents and businesses in the local area to keep them informed."

The machine which will be used to carry out the resurfacing is a cold repaver, allows the underlying layers of the road to be recycled, churning up the old surface material, combining it with new material within the body of the machine then laying it back down immediately on the road behind.

This new technology means that larger areas of resurfacing can be done quicker, there is also a 60 per cent reduction in the amount of waste taken to landfill and there are 70 per cent fewer lorry trips to and from site.

This new technology was used for the first time in the North East in 2016 when Highways England resurfaced just over a mile of the A1 at Brownieside.