Months of pain for long-term gain during road closure.
DRIVERS and Metro passengers are braced for delays as a multi-million pound revamp of a major Newcastle road begins.
Killingworth Road, part of the A189 in South Gosforth, will be closed from Thursday until next spring as it is widened and the Metro bridge across it is replaced. The new road will have a bus lane, cycle lane and wider pavement.
Government funding of PS13.5m is being invested into the project and Newcastle City Council insists the changes will reduce congestion and ease the flow of traffic.
But some nearby businesses fear trade will be hit.
Arlene Ainsley, the council's cabinet member for transport and air quality, said: "The bridge is a wellknown pinch point in the city, which snarls traffic heading in and out of Newcastle. With the bridge and retaining wall lifespans coming to an end, we've acted to ensure we take this once in a 100-year opportunity to align different investment programmes to make huge improvements to our city's network." Salters Bridge will be closed to stop motorists using Hollywood Avenue as a 'rat run', while temporary bus lanes will be introduced at key junctions and green light timings increased during peak times. Diversion signs will also be in place.
The project dovetails with Nexus's PS350m modernisation plan to replace the Victorian-era bridge and 6.3km of ageing tracks between South Gosforth and Northumberland Park.
It means that, from July 31, the line between South Gosforth and Four Lane Ends stations will be closed - extending to Shiremoor from August 12 until September 2. A replacement bus service will run throughout.
While many feel the work will be beneficial in the long term, it is feared the already-busy area will become chaotic.
Paul Knight, owner of Thyme Square Cafe on nearby Station Road, fears the length of the scheme could kill trade on the high street.
He said: "It is going to be chaos. "This road closure will probably finish us off, I don't think the business will make it to the end of the year. We will probably lose about PS30,000, and that is unsustainable.
"At the end of the day, it is going to be lovely for others but we don't see any light at the end of the tunnel."
Henry Gallagher, Lib Dem councillor for East Gosforth, believes the scheme will eventually pay dividends but understands the concerns.
"The work is going to be a problem and have a huge impact on everyone - hopefully people will find ways around the works," he said. "Once it is finished it will be a lot better.
"I will be speaking to members of highways department to see if there's a way of helping them - maybe by setting up some temporary car parking.
"Station Road has an eclectic range of shops, and we don't want them to find themselves in financial difficulty due to a loss of custom."
Replacing the Metro bridge will cost PS5.5m, while Nexus is also paying PS14m for the track replacement and embankment strengthening.
The operator said the work is being carried out during the summer holidays to minimise disruption. Huw Lewis, Nexus's customer service director, said: "We have worked closely with Newcastle City Council to dovetail these works to keep the amount of disruption to a minimum.
"Passengers are advised to allow extra time for their journeys of travelling through the affected area."
Killingworth Road is already a tight squeeze under the Metro bridge. The road will be widened and the bridge replaced