Improving the coast road in North Tyneside
The opening of a new bridge in North Tyneside was the final piece of a jigsaw to improve safety and reduce congestion on one of the borough’s busiest roads.
Completing the Norham Road Bridge brought to an end North Tyneside Council’s £7.2million A1058 Coast Road Improvement Project. As well as the new bridge, the scheme featured a major change to a nearby key junction. Capita worked with the local authority at every stage of the project – here’s the story of what happened.
The case for change:
Our involvement began in 2014 when we helped the local authority develop a bid to the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for a Local Growth Fund grant.
The bid explained how the A1058 Coast Road was a key commuter route to and from Newcastle city centre. It was already used by around 45,000 vehicles each day but this is expected to increase by 15 per cent to 51,000 over the next 15 years.
There was congestion at Billy Mill roundabout (at the eastern end of the Coast Road) and Norham Road Bridge (which spans the Coast Road in North Shields), with significant increases to journey times during peak travel periods.
Billy Mill roundabout prior to the project getting underway
Safety was also an important factor. There had been 154 collisions on the route over a five year period, including a fatality - far in excess of the national accident rate for this type of carriageway.
The case was therefore made for upgrading the junctions to help reduce current delays, improve road safety and meet the future traffic capacity needs of the borough.
Norham Road Bridge prior to the project getting underway
With the case for improvement outlined, we developed the solution with the support of our transport planning and engineering design teams.
Replacing Billy Mill roundabout with a signalised junction would provide increased capacity and reduce peak-time delays. Providing an additional traffic lane eastbound on the main Beach Road lag of the junction would help address peak-time afternoon queues while pedestrians and cyclists would benefit from a new shared footpath / cycleway.
A further feature of the scheme was the introduction of new controlled crossings, making the busy junction easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate.
Billy Mill roundabout during the project
A few hundred metres further west, at Norham Road Bridge, the proposal was to widen the bridge to four lanes which would improve traffic flows and provide a dedicated lane for vehicles turning onto the slip roads. Signalising the slip road junctions would make it easier for vehicles, particularly buses, to access Norham Road as well as make it safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road.
The Council’s funding bid to the LEP was successful - £6.5million was awarded, with the remainder of the £7.2 million budget invested by the local authority.
Communications and engagement:
Public consultation was held in early 2015, however there was a commitment to ensure ongoing communications and engagement throughout the project. A communications and engagement framework set out our planned communications activity and a community impact assessment identified key stakeholders.
Our communications tactics included fortnightly e-bulletins, letter drops, YouTube videos and briefings to key stakeholders. A dedicated phone number and email address was also setup to provide an easy way for people to get in touch.
During the project we received over 1,000 queries from the public and responded to 98.8 per cent within target time frames. More than 100 compliments were received. The Norham Road Bridge aspect was also used as the basis for engagement with students at Norham High School in the form of site visits and workshops.
Construction was split into three phases: phase one - Beach Road widening; phase two - Billy Mill roundabout (replacing the roundabout with a signalised junction); and phase three - Norham Road Bridge widening and signalisation.
Our construction team delivered phases one and two while for phase three, we managed the principal contractor, John Sisk & Son.
A priority for our construction team was to keep traffic flowing through Billy Mill junction during the works, particularly the main east-west (morning peak) and west-east (evening peak) connections used by the majority of traffic.
Billy Mill junction after the project
Consequently the most disruptive activities were confined to off-peak periods and when the roundabout was removed and replaced with a junction under temporary signals, restrictions were placed on some others arms of the junction.
This included introducing a temporary bus gate on the Lynn Road approach, meaning that there was no access from Lynn Road to Billy Mill except for buses, which was enforced by a CCTV camera.
The project as a whole was completed on Friday 10th August when Norham Road Bridge reopened to vehicles.
Norham Road Bridge after the project
North Tyneside Council’s highways and infrastructure manager, Mark Newlands, said:
“The successful delivery of this major highways project has had an instant positive impact on the Authority’s highway network. The scheme has been challenging and complex but was delivered with minimal disruption to the travelling public. The benefits to all highway users can clearly be seen.”
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