Officials at Tees Valley Combined Authority are to carry out a study into the possibility of building a road tunnel connecting Hartlepool and Redcar under the River Tees.
While the two towns are a relatively short distance apart on opposite sides of the river, drivers travelling between them need to travel to the west of Middlesbrough to cross the river via the A19 or the Newport Bridge on the A1032 – a journey of approximately 27 miles.
The combined authority has identified a new crossing for the A19 as one of the region’s key transport priorities but officials have been instructed to undertake a high-level feasibility study into the potential for a tunnel downriver.
The plan has the backing of Cllr Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, who has described it as ‘completely doable’, perhaps paid for by tolls over 20 years.
He wrote on Facebook: ‘Especially when you then create a new corridor from the A1 to Redcar/Teesworks via the A689 and through the tunnel.’
This is a reference to the development of a 4,500 acre freeport being developed at what was the Redcar steelworks, (pictured).
According to the combined authority, the A19 Tees Viaduct is the key north-south crossing of the Tees but ‘a congestion pinch point’, currently carrying 106,000 vehicles a day, more than twice as many as the parallel A1(M) at the point at which it crosses the Tees.
The authority’s preferred option for the route would provide localised widening of the existing viaduct structure to provide three southbound lanes throughout the length of the existing Tees Viaduct between the A1046 and A66 intersections, plus a new bridge structure to the west, to carry local northbound traffic.
It has submitted an Outline Business Case to the Government and is awaiting a funding decision. The current programme would see construction start in 2025 and the scheme open to traffic in 2028.