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Covid outbreak delays work on £250M A1 upgrade


National Highways has been forced to postpone work on its £250M upgrade of the A1 due to a covid outbreak among staff.


The outbreak meant the roads operator had to postpone a rail possession at the weekend for temporary works including the installation of fencing due to a site supervisor testing positive for Covid and there being no one available to deputise.


However, work on the scheme has been gathering pact and overnight closures planned this week were cancelled due to work being completed ahead of schedule.


Work had been planned for every weekday night this week (23 August to 27 August).

National Highways project manager Nicola Wilkes said: “The reason some of this week’s planned closures have been cancelled is because they were completed ahead of schedule last week.


“However we had to postpone a rail possession at the weekend for temporary works including the installation of fencing due to a site supervisor testing positive for Covid and there being no one available to deputise.


“The A1 Birtley to Coal House improvement, which will increase capacity and journey reliability by adding an extra lane in each direction, is in its early stages and this postponement will not detrimentally impact the project.”


Transport secretary Grant Shapps approved Highways England's development consent order for the A1 Birtley to Coal House Improvement Scheme in January.


Costain is on board as main contractor, with Jacobs acting as design partner.

The 6.5km scheme involves widening of the A1 south of Gateshead to four lanes on the southbound carriageway and three lanes with lane gain/drop between junctions on northbound carriageway to provide additional capacity.


The scheme will also include the off-line replacement of Allerdene Railway Bridge immediately south of the existing structure to tie into the existing structure at Junction 67 Coal House.


With the route running adjacent to the Angel of the North, the sensitivity of the location was carefully considered during the examinations and additional requirements added to control lighting and noise to protect the Angel and its setting.

Work on the project started in May and is earmarked for completion between 2024 and 2025.

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