STEPS to begin works on a Northern Gateway for Sunderland city centre are examined by councillors when they meet next week.

The Gateway is about North Bridge Street and Dame Dorothy Street becoming two-way for all traffic and improving access in and out of the city centre.

Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet meets from 2pm on Wednesday 10 January and is looking at approving the project.

A first stage of works would begin this year, take a break for the Tall Ships Event in July, and then resume with final completion in late 2019.

Subject to the Cabinet meeting, works would be completed by the council’s Highway Operations team with support from specialist contractors where required.

The council has secured an extra £3.36m of funding for the scheme through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF). This has allowed the council to revise the budget and propose extra features including more highway resurfacing and new paving throughout the North Bridge Street area.

Councillor Michael Mordey, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for City Services, said: “This authority has always been committed to improving our city’s road and transport network.

“The council has in recent years completed major works for St Mary’s Boulevard and the Wheatsheaf Junction, the New Wear Crossing is nearing completion. And, plans are moving ahead for the continuous dual-carriageway from the A19 into the city centre.

“Works on this Northern Gateway are part of the big picture for a council that is continually investing in our city. As well as improving journey times and our built environment, work on our infrastructure helps attract more private sector investment.”

The key aspects of the scheme are:

*Two-way traffic to all vehicles on North Bridge Street (three lanes northbound, two lanes southbound)
*Two- way traffic to all vehicles on Dame Dorothy Street
*New signalised junction where Church Street North and Dame Dorothy Street meet, with pedestrian access improvements
*Closure of subways under North Bridge Street/Dame Dorothy Street and Church Street North
*Closure of the vehicle access between Howick Park and Dame Dorothy in response to the petition received from local residents
*Retention of the short section of bus lane on Dundas Street, with a new ‘left only’ movement out onto North Bridge Street, leaving the junction uncontrolled as per the existing layout
*Retention of the pedestrian crossing on North Bridge Street, adjacent to the Dundas Street junction
*Simplification of traffic movements in the Howick Park area
* Introduction of a shared use cycleway and footway on the northern side of Dame Dorothy Street, tying in to future aspirations to create a cycle route through the Howick Park area
* Improvements to the road layout over the Wearmouth Bridge.