THE North-East is set to benefit of £18m of improvements to roads in the region's high-growth areas.

The Highways Agency announced three schemes in the region - in Middlesbrough, Northumberland and Wynyard, near Stockton, which will go ahead as part of a nationwide £217m programme which aims to remove bottlenecks from trunk roads and motorways.

Middlebrough will get a £6.3m scheme to widen the roundabouts and upgrading the traffic signal system at the A19/A174 Parkway junction improvement, due to start in 2013 and end in 2015.

The A19/A689 Wolviston Interchange, at Wynyard, be upgraded at the A19 southbound merge, while the A689 west approach to the roundabout will be widened and traffic signals installed. The £6.1m scheme is set to be started and finished in 2014.

The final scheme to gain funding is improvements to the A1/A19 Seaton Burn Interchange and Fisher Lane junction in Northumberland, where the diverge and merge systems will be improved and approaches to the roundabout widened. The £6.1m scheme is due to start and end in 2014.

Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Tees Valley Unlimited said: "Tees Valley has secured more than £12m of a total £18m North-East allocation to support the development of key transport and infrastructure priorities.

"Sites served by the Wolviston Interchange at Wynyard and the Parkway Junction in Middlesbrough are growing and attracting investment, and upgrades to the road networks will enable them to reach their potential more quickly bringing both jobs and regeneration to the area.

"Sound infrastructure delivering greater connectivity not only benefits existing businesses and residents, it will also help strengthen the Tees Valley offer, the Enterprise Zone incentives and the growing local economy.

"We believe today's announcement demonstrates successful partnership working between the five local authorities and the Highways Agency, led by the TVU's Transport and Infrastructure Group."