GRIDLOCKED Tyneside traffic is being blamed for forcing transport bosses to put together plans for new road charges.
Motorists stuck in rush hour traffic from the Tyne Tunnel along the A19 up to the Silverlink Roundabout on the A1058 Coast Road would either be charged a toll covering the entire stretch or made to subsidise improvements through charges on the tunnel under proposals now being worked up. North Tyneside mayor John Harrison is in talks with Tyne Tunnel bosses looking at how to use toll fees to pay for improvements on one of the North East’s most important routes.
An increase in the toll is being considered because the Government has allowed a second Tyne Tunnel to go ahead while not ensuring the Highways Agency speeds up work on the A19 roundabouts.
The A19 south of the tunnel has a serious bottleneck at Testo’s on South Tyneside – though this could be tackled soon. North of the tunnel there are pinchpoints at the A19’s junction with the A189 spine road at Moor Farm, near Cramlington, and at the junction with the A1 at Seaton Burn.
But the most serious bottleneck is at the Silverlink roundabout just a mile north of the tunnel.
Mr Harrison said plans for a new toll covering a stretch of the A19 are “the most unlikely” but believes the same two-mile stretch of road could be covered by a “shadow toll”.
This would see charges on the Tyne Tunnel increased over several years as drivers using the tunnel pay towards improvements on a road other motorists are using without charge.