Work to create more space for people and improve the road network for traffic is underway in a busy city centre street.
Newcastle City Council is making changes to the area around the Haymarket as part of a major investment scheme that will tackle congestion and improve air quality in the city centre.
All routes will remain open during the works but people driving in this part of the city are advised that there could be some delays during peak travel times.
A key part of the work is to improve the area for those on foot, who make up a significant proportion of people in this part of the city as it is close to the universities, the Metro and bus stations as well as shops and workplaces.
Extra space for people on foot will be created by reducing the number of lanes on Barras Bridge, on the approach to St Mary’s Place and Percy Street, from three to two.
This will also simplify the road layout for people driving and will narrow the pedestrian crossing, meaning traffic will not have to wait as long for the lights to change back to green.
Temporary materials will be used to create wider pavements on Barras Bridge so that the impact and effectiveness of the new layout can be monitored and changed if necessary before a permanent solution is installed.
This approach, to trial the changes and determine success or what alterations are needed before making any changes permanent, is similar to the approach used when Northumberland Street was changed in the 1980s.
As well as the changes around the Haymarket the city council is also making permanent upgrades to a number of other traffic signals in the city centre to improve timings and better manage traffic flows. This includes all the signals on Market Street and Newgate Street.
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “These works are part of our plans to create a city centre which is safer and more accessible for everyone.
“We know that making it easier for people to get into and around our city is vital for our retail and leisure-based economy and we have and will continue to work closely with a range of city centre businesses to develop these plans.
“The investment we are making at Barras Bridge to provide better space for people on foot – mostly shoppers, workers and students, who make up a significant group of people who use this area – will make the area safer and more attractive.
“This is also an area which is well used by buses and people in cars due to the fact that there are two bus stations, two main city centre car parks and click and collect points for shoppers. The improvements we are making include clearer road layouts and new intelligent traffic signals to help manage traffic more efficiently in this part of the city.
“Traffic signals elsewhere in the city centre will also be upgraded as part of our investment, which also includes plans to develop a more efficient route for buses around the edge of the city’s retail heart.”
The work programme for the improvements at the Haymarket has been scheduled to ensure completion as quickly as possible before the start of the busy Christmas shopping period.
The impact of the trial measures will be monitored and the city council will work closely with businesses to determine the success of the trial and what measures should be put in place permanently.