WORK to replace a congested town centre roundabout with a traffic light junction in a multi-million pound scheme will begin this week.
Highways bosses at Darlington Borough Council have warned that delays for motorists are inevitable during the work on the Darlington inner ring road, which is expected to take up to a year.
The 1970s-built Stonebridge roundabout, often the cause of delays for many motorists, will be replaced with a light-controlled junction to improve the flow of traffic around the town centre.
A number of other changes will be made to the inner ring road as part of the £3.7m scheme, funded by the Department for Transport as part of the Tees Valley Bus Improvement Project, including additional lanes, filter lanes and changes to pedestrian access.
Dave Winstanley, Darlington Borough Council’s assistant director for highways, said every effort would be made to minimise disruption for motorist but that some delays would be inevitable.
The work will be completed with lane closures in small sections along the carriageway, with the first stage of the work starting on Monday, February 17.
The improvements to Stonebridge and the inner ring road are considered necessary due to the strain on the network and the expectation of added pressure once a proposed cinema development in Feethams and the new Department for Education building are complete.
Mr Winstanley said: “We’ve split the work down into a number of phases. There will be disruption and we are doing our best to minimise that by breaking the work down.
“We will close certain lanes at different times and when we take out the roundabout itself, people might have to travel around the other two roundabouts to change direction.
“The scheme is about managing congestion – what’s happening now, everyone can see, is that the roundabout is failing, it causes gridlock.
“What we are trying to do is manage that congestion to give each motorist the chance to get through the junction. There will be people sat at traffic lights but they will get through.
“The traffic is not going to go away but the current set-up just does not work at all.”
The council has set up a dedicated webpage at darlington.gov.uk/Transport/Stonebridge.htm to keep road users updates on the scheme.