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Cranes swing into action to remove A1 footbridge near Gateshead

Two large cranes will swing into action on the A1 near Gateshead later this month to remove a pedestrian footbridge over the busy dual carriageway.

The North Dene Bridge between junctions 65 (Birtley) and 66 (Eighton Lodge) is being taken down as part of National Highways’ Birtley to Coal House improvement.

The project will widen the A1 from three to four lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on the southbound carriageway and three lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on the northbound carriageway.

The 47-metre long, 100 tonne structure needs to be removed to allow for construction of the new lanes. Once this is done next summer a new, longer, bridge will be installed. Project Manager Helen Burrow said:

“To enable us to start widening the carriageway, North Dene Bridge needs to come down. In order to do that safely we need to close the A1 in both directions between junctions 65 and 66. “This will give us the space we need to mobilise the cranes and lift the bridge on to trailers in sections to be taken away for recycling.

“We’d like to thank road users for their patience while we close the road, and also pedestrians who will be without a bridge while we carry out this vital scheme, which will reduce congestion, improve safety and boost the regional economy.”

Pedestrians will be able to use the Longbank Underpass until a replacement bridge is installed next summer.

It is hoped the bridge will be removed in one night, from 8pm on Saturday 24 September to 6am the following morning. A 95-tonne crane will be set up on the northbound carriageway while a larger, 200-tonne crane will operate on the southbound.

The operation is weather dependant and cannot be carried out in high winds. If its removal cannot be completed that night, the A1 will also be closed from 8pm on Sunday 25 September to 6am the next morning.

The A1 northbound will be closed from junction 65 (Birtley) to junction 66 (Eighton Lodge) with traffic diverted off the A1 at junction 65 along the A194(M) and the A184 around Gateshead to rejoin the A1 at junction 69 (Gateshead Quays).

Any traffic intending to join the A1 at junctions 66, 67 or 68 to head north will be able to do so. The southbound carriageway will be closed from junction 69 (Gateshead Quays) to junction 65 (Birtley). Through traffic will be diverted via the A184 and A194(M).

Anyone wanting to join the A1 southbound at junctions 68, 67 or 66 will be diverted onto the northbound carriageway to Junction 69 where they will be able to pick up the diversion route. Local diversions together with diversions for non-motorway traffic will be clearly signed.

The A1 Birtley to Coal House project will enhance journey times and safety and boost the North East’s economy by widening the road from three to four lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on the southbound carriageway and three lanes between junctions 65 and 67 on the northbound carriageway.    

The existing Allerdene railway bridge, which carries the A1 over the East Coast Main Line, will be replaced and the bridges at junctions 66 and 67 widened to accommodate the additional lanes.   National Highways will also introduce electronic signage to provide driver information along the road. The location of these signs has been agreed with Gateshead Council and in consultation with Antony Gormley’s studio in order to consider views of The Angel of the North. The iconic statue’s setting will be improved with tree planting within the boundary of the scheme to maximise visibility of the Angel.    

The upgrade, which is due to open to traffic in Spring 2025, is being delivered by Costain Jacobs Partnership.   

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