A LONG-AWAITED scheme to upgrade a section of the A19 is on track to start by March 2020, the Highways Agency has confirmed.

The A19 Norton to Wynyard scheme will upgrade the existing dual carriageway to three lanes of traffic in each direction.

The existing carriageway will be replaced with low noise surfacing following complaints from residents whose homes border the road.

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Some footbridges and underpasses will also be replaced.

Officals from the Highways Agency met Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham in Westminster to update him on the work.

A Highways Agency spokeswoman said: “The A19 Norton to Wynyard scheme is on track to start work by March 2020.

“The project team have reviewed the feedback from the public consultation held in October last year, which will inform the preferred route announcement and development of the scheme design.

“A further announcement will be made later this year.”

Mr Cunningham warned that a considerable amount of work had yet to be undertaken and suggestions that the upgrade could in fact be brought forward were at this stage speculation.

It was previously shelved in 2010 by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, despite many years of campaigning for action to be taken.

Mr Cunningham said: “The good news is that the project is on schedule to start, albeit many years after the original date.

“My only concern is that in his letters to me the [Transport] Minister keeps saying the project still has to pass a value for money test, but hopefully after years of prevaricating he won’t delay it any further.”

In the meeting the MP also discussed plans by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) for a new crossing over the River Tees.

TVCA says a new Tees crossing could help maximise the potential of the A19 Norton to Wynyard widening scheme.

It would also provide capacity for an additional 72,000 vehicles a day to cross the river, relieving pressure on the A19 Tees Viaduct and, hopefully, cutting congestion.

Mr Cunningham said he had been promised a briefing soon on the plans.