A total of 13 miles along the route are due to be converted to dual carriageway, between Morpeth and Ellingham.
But before work can begin, travel chiefs are still waiting on a decision from the Government’s planning inspectorate on whether the scheme should be given the green light.
“We’re expecting the inspector’s decision in January 2022, following which there will be a cooling off period, allowing for the start of works in the summer,” said Stuart Culley, community engagement manager at Costain, a contractor appointed to the road upgrade.
“We’re looking to to get the scheme open for traffic in 2024/25.”
Project chiefs at National Highways, formerly known as Highways England, have previously predicted work will start in earnest between July – September next year.
Cllr Gordon Castle, member for Alnwick on Northumberland County Council, said: “Whilst this long anticipated project has been slowed over lockdown I have always remained confident as soon as the funding was allocated by treasury that it would go ahead.
"It has been through the unavoidably drawn out national planning cycle for major works and I understand that clearance can be expected in late spring next year.
"This means that a start next summer is realistic and will, I hope, convince the many cynics and doubters that this project is real.”
The scheme has been split into two sections, with Government cash worth £290m allocated towards making it a reality.
The first stretch, between Morpeth and Felton, will see:
- Eight miles of road upgraded to dual carriageway;
- A bypass constructed between Priests Bridge and Burgham Park and
- A new subway and bridge over the River Coquet.
The second section, between Alnwick and Ellingham, will include:
- A five-mile portion of highway converted to dual carriageway, and
- A new junction at Charlton Mires.
Updating Northumberland County Council’s Castle Morpeth Local Area Council on progress so far, Mr Culley said: “The scheme has has been relatively quiet recently, in terms of the public domain, but it doesn’t preclude the extensive work that’s going on behind the scenes.”