Motorists will face two months of delays and disruption along North Tyneside’s popular coastal route when a £500,000 Northumbrian Water project gets under way next week.
Part of Sea Banks and Grand Parade which hug the Tynemouth section of the coastal strip are set to be reduced to one lane as Northumbrian Water and its supply partner Esh Stantec begin work on replacing an aging sewer network. A one-way traffic system is expected to be in place until the back end of June.
The sewer upgrade is happening at Sharpness Point between King Edward’s Bay and Longsands with the full project expected to take around six months to complete. Most of the pipeline is within the road in Grand Parade and at the bottom end of Percy Park Road – both of which are major routes in and out of Tynemouth.
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The one-way traffic system will extend from Sea Banks’ junction with the Victorian crescent at Percy Gardens, and along the section of Grand Parade that runs parallel with the Grand Hotel and Longsands beach, to the roundabout at the junction of Percy Park Road.
Some work will take place at the bottom end of Percy Park Road.
Around 400m of failing pumped main from the Sharpness Point Pumping Station to Percy Park Road needs replacing. Northumbrian Water says the work is necessary as the existing pumping main has reached the end of its design life and has burst several times.
The utility company says it will make the sewer network more resilient and also reduce any pollution risk to Tynemouth’s award-winning Longsands beach, which has prestigious Blue Flag status.
The timing of the work at the start of the summer season has been questioned by some locals, however. Writing on Northumbrian Water’s Community Portal, one person said: “While I am sure this work is essential, I just can’t believe that across the summer is the best time to do this. Tynemouth is exceptionally busy over this period and surely there will be an adverse affect on tourism and our Blue Flag awarded beach.
“This will affect access to the beach and generally turn the most prominent part of the seafront into a building site over the most important time of the year!! Surely common sense must prevail here?”
The same writer added: “I think the Telegraph has just placed us as one of the 5 best places to visit this summer, I’m not sure they were counting on traffic cones and road works being at that location!”
Tynemouth ward Conservative Councillor Lewis Bartoli also expressed his concern on the community portal, saying: “As the ward councillor for this area I am extremely concerned that the proposed works along the seafront and Grand Parade are being carried out over the six-month summer period . This area is often completely blocked with traffic as people visit our village and beaches and I am concerned that closing even one lane will cause travel chaos.
“Our retail and hospitality businesses rely heavily on this period and any disruption could have the potential to deter visitors.”
But Peter Greenan, Project Manager at Northumbrian Water, said while he understood residents concerns, the work is essential. He said: “We are investing half a million pounds in replacing part of the sewage main at Sharpness Point in Tynemouth. This essential work is to ensure that the sewer network continues to serve the community effectively.
“The pipe that currently serves this area has burst previously causing disruption and problems to local people and businesses, and so the sooner we replace it the sooner we can reduce the risk of further bursts, including possible risk to the local bathing waters.
“Construction on the project is predicted to last six months, however we expect to have all the pipe laying in the roads completed before the end of June – meaning that the road will be reopened fully before the busy period at the beginning of the school holidays .”
He added: “When completing the pipe laying, it is essential to close a part of Grand Parade so that we can carry out the work quickly and safely and without endangering the public and we have been working closely with the local authorities to make sure we are putting the least disruptive traffic management in place.
“We understand why our customers may feel concerned about the works, but we have been working closely with residents and local businesses when setting out our construction plans. We will continue to communicate with affected residents and businesses as the project progresses.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and of course, we will be working hard to keep disruption in the area to a minimum whilst in the area completing this essential upgrade.”