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URGENCY: Road layout changes follow last weekend’s gridlock

URGENCY: Road layout changes follow last weekend’s gridlock

Tens of thousands of drivers have been fined for driving in the controversial Askew Road bus lane, Image: Newcastle Chronicle

Changes will be made to central Gateshead’s road layout in a bid to ensure last weekend’s traffic chaos doesn’t happen again.

This comes after an investigation was launched after Gateshead Council admitted that congestion was “on a scale not seen previously”.

On Monday, Sheena Ramsey, chief executive at Gateshead Council, said that congestion seen on Friday and Saturday was “significantly worse than usual”, and that it is investigating it as “a matter of urgency”.

Drivers reported mayhem in central Gateshead, with a Heworth woman saying her shopping was ruined after being stuck in Tesco car park for two hours on Friday.

The authority said that Newcastle was also hit by heavy traffic and that large crowds attending major cultural and sporting events by car, as well as families bringing students to the area, contributed to that congestion.

However, it admitted that congestion is causing problems especially around the Nelson Street and Lambton Street area , with amendments to traffic management starting from Friday September 24.

The council also said that its analysis showed that as well the extra traffic using the roads, problems were also caused by some drivers using illegal shortcuts, which made conditions worse.

To make sure this doesn’t  happen again, it is changing the layout of Lambton Street and Nelson Street, which form the main access to the Trinity Square car park.

This is what the changes will look like:

  • Access will continue to be possible from the east along Lambton Street, and from the west along Nelson Street – including to businesses on the northern side of Nelson Street.
  • All traffic exiting from the Trinity Square car park will need to turn left and use Nelson Street and the West Central Route.
  • There will be no longer be access for through traffic along Lambton Street from east to west.

This will simplify traffic movements and enable the traffic signals at the exit of Trinity Square to be shut off, avoiding the lengthy delays experienced last weekend.

Additional yellow warning signs will be positioned at the Oakwellgate roundabout and on the approaches, as well as on Askew Road, west of the junction with the A184 West Central Route.

In the medium term, the borough will be carrying out further analysis of its network, including Bensham roundabout (junction of A184 and B1426), Regent Terrace / Charles Street and the Park Lane roundabout, to assess what changes may be beneficial to improve the management of traffic flows.

Marc Morley, Service Director for Highways and Waste  at Gateshead Council, said: “Gateshead is firmly committed to tackling the climate emergency and resolving problems with air quality. We have made significant changes to our town centre road network to help address those issues, and will continue to refine our approach.

“Any action we take must sit within the wider context of the Council’s responsibilities to all road users and pedestrians.

“We need to shift the balance away from the private car and towards alternative forms of transport, and would urge all our residents, and those travelling into Gateshead from neighbouring areas, to please choose the most appropriate, and least polluting mode of transport for their journey.”

However, some users on the Trinity Square Facebook page weren’t convinced, with one saying the problem was months in the making.

They wrote: “This isn’t just a problem from last weekend, its been like that for months and months, getting worse by the Friday afternoon.”

Another added: “Drivers using ‘illegal’ shortcuts are doing so out of sheer frustration.”

 

Words: Herbert Soden, Local Demcoracy Reporter


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