Fury over A19 noise pledge u-turn

Chris Banks and Coun Hilary Thompson beside the A19
Chris Banks and Coun Hilary Thompson beside the A19

VILLAGE residents who say they have to put up with constant noise from a busy dual carriageway are angry after learning that a resurfacing project will not ease their problem.

Residents in Elwick village, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, claim the noise of the traffic from the A19 is at times so loud “it’s like living at the end of an airport runway.”

New surfaces have been laid on roads to the north and south of Elwick, which people claim to have made a huge difference.

The residents say they had similar problems with the Highways Agency around nine years ago and were promised, in a number of letters, that next time the A19 was to be resurfaced it would use a quieter rubber-based material.

But they have been left fuming after finding out that roadworks are to go ahead in June using the same material that has previously been used.

Chris Banks, the chairman of Elwick Parish Council, said: “We have been patiently waiting for the new surface which we were promised.

“There is no doubt that, with the opening of the second Tyne Tunnel, traffic levels on the A19 will increase.

“It seems totally illogical that the A19 to the north and south of us has the quiet surface where there are very few houses but, where the traffic passes within 400 metres of the village, we have to endure the noise.”

In letters received by the parish council last time the A19 was resurfaced in 2002, the Highways Agency made it clear that it would use low-noise surfacing in the future.

But now the Agency has backtracked and said the funding isn’t available to use the quieter surfacing.

A Highways Agency spokesperson said: “The resurfacing of the northbound stretch of the A19 near Elwick has been arranged to commence on June 19 for a total of three weeks.

“The A19 in the vicinity of Elwick forms part of a design build finance operate contract and is operated and maintained by our concessionaries.

“Under this contract, there is no requirement to use low-noise surfacing.

“The installation of quieter surfacing would require additional payments to our contractor, for which funding is not currently available.”

Councillor Hilary Thompson, who represents the Elwick ward, said: “I am utterly dismayed at the recent reply from Highways.

“Residents of Elwick village have waited patiently for resurfacing in the summer of this year.

“We all realise that funding is under pressure these days, but quality of life must be considered.

“Quiet surfacing has been carried out a few miles north of the village where housing is sparse, but is now in question in an area that runs within a few metres of an entire village, this cannot be fair.

“Many people have lived in Elwick for decades and, with increased traffic on the A19, noise levels have now become intolerable.”