New traffic signs go live

A photograph of a variable traffic sign in Newcastle city centre
A photograph of a variable traffic sign in Newcastle city centre

A network of electronic signs that give drivers up to the minute information have gone live at some of Tyneside’s busiest locations.

The large Variable Message Signs (VMS) are intended to give motorists key information to help them plan their journey and warn them of weather disruption.

They are located at 27 strategic points throughout Tyne and Wear and Northumberland – 11 in Newcastle; five in Gateshead; four in Sunderland; three each in North and South Tyneside and one in Northumberland.

Their £1m cost has been met from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund and administered via the North East Combined Authority.

Councillors from Newcastle and Gateshead got together to see the sign on the Newcastle side of the Redheugh Bridge in operation.

Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Regulation, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “As drivers know, accurate and timely information can mean a lot when you are on the road.

“Knowing when an accident is ahead, a bridge is closed or a car park is full enables a driver to take alternative action which cuts journey times and congestion, so I welcome these signs as another way of supporting motorists and investing in our highways.”

Gateshead’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Malcolm Brain, said: “Thousands of drivers use Gateshead’s roads as part of their journey to and from work every day, and they’ll know only too well that a simple break-down or a traffic light failure can have a huge impact on that journey. Not knowing the cause of the hold-up can also be very frustrating.

“Having timely information about the traffic conditions ahead won’t cure those delays, but it will help motorists to plan their journey a little better, and knowing the cause of the hold-up might just help to alleviate their frustrations a little.”

Among other things, the signs will display:

  • Warnings about road conditions, high winds, fog, flooding
  • Warnings of live incidents eg collisions
  • Journey times when they are much higher than normal
  • Journey times by mode eg bus x minutes, car x minutes
  • Car park occupancy
  • Warnings of events likely to cause delays
  • Major road works

The signs can also be used to convey road safety messages as part of local and national campaigns eg Don’t Drink and Drive – but will not be used for social media or give web addresses.

All signs comply with Department for Transport regulations.

All signs in Newcastle and Gateshead are currently working except the one on the A189 Ponteland Road on the approach to Brighton Grove, and the one on the A184, Askew Road West, which both require further work.