The new Mayor of Tees Valley is urging the Government to bring forward upgrades to the A19 after the Hartlepool Mail called for an urgent review of safety on the road.
The Mail, alongside sister papers the Sunderland Echo and the Shields Gazette, launched the Safe A19 campaign in an effort to reduce collisions on the busy dual carriageway.
More than 800 people have now signed our on-line petition.
Now Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen is urging the Government to make an earlier start to improvements to a 3.1mile stretch of the road than planned.
The current Department for Transport (DfT) timetable would see work to widen the road between Norton and Wynyard start in 2020, with a completion date of 2022.
But now a review by Highways England has concluded that the project will not require a Development Consent Order (DCO) - a statutory instrument that could take up to 15 months to finalise - and the Mayor has written to the Government, calling on DfT to bring forward the start of construction to late 2018 or early 2019.
Mr Houchen says the planned improvements to the A19, which is recognised as a nationally important strategic corridor, would promote economic growth in Tees Valley by unlocking major housing and development sites: “I’ve made upgrading our roads a key part of my Plan for Growth.
"If I am successful in accelerating the delivery of this project, it will make a significant contribution to the lives of Teessiders, leading to more jobs and quicker journeys," he said.
“I have put a strong case to my colleagues in Government and I hope that ministers agree with me that this is a serious opportunity to make life better for people in Tees Valley.”
Our petition calling for an inquiry into safety on the A19 states: “The people of the North East, backed by the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail, call on the Government to carry out an inquiry into safety on the A19.
“Last year alone, there were more than 70 people injured as a result of crashes on the stretch between Wolviston and Boldon.
“This is too many collisions and it simply cannot go on.
“Added to the danger to drivers and passengers, the problems are bringing the North East and its economy to a halt - more must be done to get us moving forward.
“With the backing of North East MPs, including Easington MP Grahame Morris, we want the Department for Transport to look at this issue and take action to protect our region and its people for generations to come.”
New figures detailing collisions are yet to be issued by the Government for the 2016 period.
Estimated statistics show between Boldon and Wolviston, there were 36 crashes during that time, with 88 vehicles involved.
They left 71 people hurt, with six of the smashes classed as serious.
Find the petition HERE.