Major road upgrades in County Durham have been set for January after preparatory works have been taking place throughout this month. 

The Durham County Council works, which involve a series of public utility diversions, have started along the A167 - in preparation for the full schedule of improvements at the start of 2024. 

After the preparation works, the main scheme will follow from January and will deliver improvements to the A167’s Central Avenue and Ricknall Lane junctions, and at the A167/A689 Rushyford roundabout.

The Northern Echo: Preparation work for the full improvement scheme in January are currently taking placePreparation work for the full improvement scheme in January are currently taking place (Image: DURHAM COUNTY COUNCIL)

It will provide additional road capacity in the area, unlocking the potential to develop up to 1,400 new homes on the Low Copelaw site to the east of the town.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “Low Copelaw is identified as a strategic housing site in the County Durham Plan and it’s important that we approach the site’s development very carefully.

“These upgrades to the highway network are a critical part of our approach.

"Not only will they provide access to the site itself, but they will also ensure that highway capacity keeps pace with housing growth in the area.

She added: “Though these kinds of improvements are needed to ensure we can keep traffic moving in the long term, we very much appreciate that they will inevitably cause some disruption in the short term.

“We apologise in advance for any inconvenience and also thank people for their patience while we deliver this important project.”

The work at the A167’s Central Avenue junction will involve widening, traffic lights improvements, improved pedestrian crossings and the introduction of a new link road providing access to the future housing site.

New traffic lights will be introduced at the A167’s Ricknall Lane junction, along with improved pedestrian crossings.

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All approaches to the A167/A689 Rushyford roundabout will be widened to three lanes, and improvements will be made to the roundabout’s layout.

Full details of the traffic management measures needed to enable the scheme will be set out in the future.

Durham County Council has secured £7m from the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to deliver the scheme, which is scheduled to be complete next summer.