• Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

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Flagship transformation of city centre street completed

A £1.7 million pound flagship refurbishment of a city centre street has been completed.

Newcastle City Council’s transformation of John Dobson Street is the first stage in a wider plan aimed at making it easier and safer to travel in and around the city centre.

A key feature of the new-look street is a segregated, two-way cycle lane, with dedicated signals at junctions to make it easier and safer for people on bikes.

Work to link up with existing cycle routes nearby will also be carried out in order to further extend the improvements for cyclists.

John Litherland, chair of the Newcastle Cycling Stakeholder Forum, said: “It’s great to see our first 21st century cycling infrastructure in the centre of Newcastle.

“The completion of John Dobson Street provides a safe, quick route between St Mary’s Place and Market Street.

“Cycling is growing already in the city. With more investment like this cycling can become a major means of transport in Newcastle.”

People who travel by bus are also starting to benefit, with new bus stops and more reliable journey times since the introduction of the bus lane between St Mary’s Place and Ridley Place.

This means that the route in and out of the street for some motorists has changed but vehicles can still get to and from car parks and businesses in this area of the city centre by driving along Durant Road from the central motorway.

Improved traffic light technology means that the flow of vehicles can be managed more effectively in order to avoid traffic building up in the area.

The work has also seen a new boulevard-style layout, with widened pavements, a tree-lined pedestrian area along the centre and improved crossing points, creating a safer and more attractive environment for people and nearby businesses.

Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for investment and development at Newcastle City Council, said: “The transformation of John Dobson Street is the first stage in our plans to make the city centre safer and more accessible for everyone.

“By changing how we use the area along John Dobson Street we have been able to free up space for people to walk and cycle in a safe and welcoming environment while also achieving improvements for people who use public transport and who drive.”

Over the next few years the city council will be working on a number of other projects in the city centre as part of the £60m Re-newcastle programme of investment to improve key roads and junctions.

Cllr Bell added: “Effective and efficient transport networks which enable people to travel easily in and around our city are crucial for supporting and developing a strong local economy in which businesses can thrive.

“And by improving our transport networks we are also improving the health of our city by reducing air pollution caused by congestion and by making it easier for people to choose more active ways to travel, such as walking or cycling.”

The work on John Dobson Street has been funded through the Cycle City Ambition Fund, which is aimed at developing routes and encouraging more people to cycle.

The city council worked closely with national charity Sustrans, which seeks to enable and inspire people to make more journeys by bike, by public transport and on foot, to develop the scheme.

Neil Mitchell, head of delivery for Sustrans in the North of England, said: “In the survey of Newcastle residents last year for the Bike Life Report on attitudes to cycling, the number one barrier was safety.

“We know from other cities where we work that more high quality paths like John Dobson Street, linking to routes on quieter streets, will really start to attract large numbers of people to cycling.

“This in turn helps to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution and improves health.”

The work on John Dobson Street has been carried out in four carefully planned phases along different sections of the road and access to the area has been maintained as much as possible throughout the works in order to minimise disruption and inconvenience.

As with all major project of this nature, the city council will continue to monitor traffic flows through the area and adjust the traffic signal timings where necessary to ensure junctions work at optimal efficiency levels and in sync with other sets of traffic lights.

This means the initial journey time benefits – particularly those seen by bus passengers – will continue to improve as adjustments are made.

The changes mean that cars can no longer turn into John Dobson Street from St Mary’s Place or continue along John Dobson Street past Ridley Place towards the Civic Centre.

Motorists are instead advised to travel to John Dobson Street via Durant Road while those wishing to drive to the RVI hospital are advised to travel via Claremont Road off the Central Motorway.

Work to link the new cycle lane with the existing cycle route outside the Civic Centre and St Thomas’ Church will start early next year. These works will be much smaller in scale and are not expected to cause major disruption.