A lack of sustained investment in the city’s infrastructure for decades has led to pressure on different parts of the transport network and our efforts to secure funding for, and subsequently address these issues, has led to several years of ongoing roadworks in different areas. We know this can cause frustrations in the short term, but ultimately, they reflect the growing pains of a city that aims to flourish long into the future.
In the past, our transport infrastructure has grown in line with demand, primarily in response to increased car use. Our approach needs to take account of the longer term interests of people, in terms of their health, wellbeing and their experience of getting to, and around, the city. We now have a major opportunity to ensure that people are at the heart of our plans, for today, tomorrow, and generations to come.
The city centre is our main employment and shopping area and has key facilities like the Royal Victoria Infirmary, the Universities, Newcastle Central Rail Station and of course St James’ Park. It creates a lot of the trips that people make in Newcastle and so many people arriving into the same place, at the same time, can cause issues on infrastructure that hasn’t been upgraded in several years.
We’re addressing this lack of investment and have been successful in securing funding both from private developers, and from central government. We’ve been planning improvements for many years and have been engaging, particularly with businesses and major employment sites, about what changes to make, how to make them, and importantly, when. This programme of work has already started with some schemes complete and others starting imminently such as at the entrance to Haymarket Bus Station or on Newgate Street.
We have also implemented some changes on a ‘trial’ basis to determine how successful they would be before making them permanent. At Barras Bridge, next to Newcastle University and a key gateway to some of the city’s most popular bus stations and car parks, we have re-allocated space temporarily to reflect how people use the area for most of the day.
By investing in new traffic signal technology we’ve been able to create much more space for people on foot, without seeing a big impact on journey times for those in vehicles. However what has also been really useful by taking this approach is enabling us to see where we might make some changes before potentially making the system permanent.
This is the same approach as was taken in the 1980s to the changes on Northumberland Street. This was done incrementally and the impact managed, and monitored. Despite early reservations about those changes, they proved to be hugely beneficial for the city. That said, time moves on and we recognise Northumberland Street is in need of further investment so we’ve got big plans for the area, click here to read more about them.