ROUND UP: Major transport projects in the Tees Valley
Middlesbrough Railway masterplan, Image: Middlesbrough Council
A raft of major transport projects have been lined up in the Tees Valley.
But some are ahead of others in coming to fruition, and many haven’t started yet.
Improvements on the A689, Darlington Station’s revamp, and the Linthorpe Road cycle superhighway, in Middlesbrough, are among those making progress at the moment.
Councillors were given a rundown of where schemes stood at the latest Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) transport committee.
Cycling and walking
Work on the controversial Linthorpe Road cycling project is due to start in the new year, according to TVCA papers.
The half mile scheme between Ayresome Street and Borough Road sparked a petition with more than 700 signatures against the move.
But more parking spaces have been lined up along the Middlesbrough route since then with two taxi ranks retained either side of the Southfield Road junction between 6pm and 8am.
This project and the cycle route along Woodland Road, in Darlington, are due to be completed by Summer 2022, according to TVCA officials.
Designs and consultation are also being lined up for cycle routes along the A689, in Hartlepool, Norton Road, in Stockton, and between Guisborough and Nunthorpe.
The aim is to complete these by March 2023.
Darlington Station’s £105m revamp saw its eastern gateway granted planning permission late last month.
Combined authority reports show there is still a need to secure cash from the Department for Transport (DfT) in next summer – with construction due to start soon after, and the project being finished by May 2024.
Meanwhile, continued work at Middlesbrough Station will see the long-awaited redevelopment of the undercroft.
This is due to start in December and be completed by December 2022.
Work on the new platform three is due to start on site early next year with a target finish date of December 2022.
Improving freight links to stop cargo trains having to change at Darlington and clogging the network is another aim of the combined authority.
The report added: “This means that freight trains with large containers from the Teesside Freeport heading south must use a longer and less efficient route via Darlington Station.
“This project will enhance the gauge clearance to enable more freight to be moved efficiently by rail and facilitate the projected growth in freight volumes through the Freeport.”
Officials say a decision on the bid is expected this autumn.
Cllr Heather Scott wanted something done quickly.
The Darlington Council leader added: “It is ridiculous that rail freight comes into Darlington station and has to reverse back out to get to the Tees Valley – it is something else which is critical to address.”
Disabled passengers have long face access woes at Billingham Station.
But work is due to start on new lifts to and from the platform early next year with a target to finish before 2022 ends.
Projects at Eaglescliffe Station include a new connection to the western side and replacement of the existing bridge to the eastern side.
A new 120 space car park and other access improvements on the western side have also been lined up.
The aim is to start work early next year and complete the project in 2023.
The £480m Tees Crossing is likely the most expensive of the projects the combined authority has in its sights at the moment.
A business case has been sent to the Government to fund the work designed to end rush hour woes on the overpass and nearby A66.
Transport official Tom Bryant told the committee a raft of new information handed to Whitehall arguing how the project was important for ambitions at Teesworks and the new Freeport.
“We feel we’ve made a really strong case to government and we continue to push hard and lobby to get the commitment from them to take it to the next step,” added Mr Bryant.
And at a later scrutiny meeting, he said: “It’s moving in the right direction.
“We have had some recent discussions at a very senior level within the DfT.
“We are making the strongest possible case we can that this isn’t just a transport case, it is fundamental to unlocking the potential of the Teesworks and Freeport site.
“Government do get it and do understand the strategic importance, but it is still a very expensive scheme.”
A funding request has also been fired off for A689 corridor improvement to address congestion and cycleway-footway improvements for a traffic-free route on the corridor from Sedgefield to Hartlepool.
The TVCA has stumped up £6.4m for this but the total scheme is forecast to come in at £40.8m.
Meanwhile, a A66 maintenance project is included in a TVCA bid to the government’s “Levelling Up Fund” to improve the structure of the route.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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