The A66/A171 Cargo Fleet Junction Improvements scheme - known locally as the A66 Throughabout - opened to traffic on Sunday, August 30.
Designed to handle the 50,000 vehicles (including over 5,000 HGVs) that pass through it every weekday, the new junction is working well, with drivers quickly adapting to the new road layout.
Works to introduce a total of 11 high mast lighting columns and remove the existing lighting on the section of the A66 between Middlehaven Interchange and the Cargo Fleet Junction were completed on Friday, September 18.
This means that the full length of the A66 through Middlesbrough is now covered by high mast lighting, thereby improving lighting levels whilst reducing long-term maintenance and energy costs.
The new road layout was developed following detailed modelling work that tested a number of potential options designed to improve the capacity of the junction and, therefore, its ability to handle the expected increase in peak period traffic movements over the coming years.
The Throughabout was found to deliver the greatest benefits of all of the options tested.
The re-routing of A66 traffic through the centre of the roundabout has reduced the volume of traffic using the circulatory carriageway, making it easier for drivers to enter the junction from Cambridge Road and Works Road.
A new signal-controlled pedestrian crossing facility has been introduced to replace the previous route linking the north and south sides of the junction.
The introduction of a signalised crossroads at the Cargo Fleet Lane/South Bank Road junction has ensured that the two junctions operate together as efficiently as possible.
Just as importantly, it has allowed signal-controlled pedestrian and cycle crossing facilities to be introduced, providing a safe and direct route for users of Route 1 of the National Cycle Network - which runs along South Bank Road - and, by doing so, improving cycle connectivity between Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland.
The new road layout has improved the capacity and resilience of both junctions, reducing journey times and improving journey time reliability, particularly during the busy morning and evening peak periods.
CCTV cameras at both junctions allow their operation to be monitored continuously, whilst the introduction of an uninterruptable power supply will ensure that the traffic signals continue to operate in the event of an unexpected failure in the mains supply.
The estimated cost of the new junction is £4.403 million, of which £2.950 million was secured from the National Productivity Investment Fund (administered by the Department for Transport), with a further £0.991 million from the Local Growth Fund (administered by the Tees Valley Combined Authority).
The balance of £0.462 million has been met by Middlesbrough Council, funded from its Local Transport Capital Programme.
Works to construct the scheme commenced on Monday, October 21, 2019. Following a pause in construction in the period immediately following the national lockdown in March due to COVID-19, works restarted on a phased basis on Monday, May 4.
Works were completed by mid-September despite the restrictions on site working imposed by social distancing and the other measures required to ensure the safety of the workforce.
Delivery of the scheme required input from a number of different partners, all working on behalf of the Council.
The main contractor was AE Yates Limited Civil Engineering, who was appointed following a competitive tender exercise.
Fore Consulting Limited carried out the initial traffic modelling, with Lynas Engineers responsible for both the detailed design of the scheme and the day-to-day management and supervision of works on site.
Faithful+Gould was responsible for financial and programme management.
Stakeholder engagement was also a key element of the project. A major public information exercise was carried out prior to the start of works, and updates were provided to key stakeholders and the travelling public at key stages of the project.
A dedicated page was also created on the Council website, again updated on a regular basis.
Councillor Ashley Waters, Middlesbrough Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, said: "The completion of this important scheme during the current pandemic is a real good news story, and a testament to the dedication and professionalism of everyone involved.
"Even in normal circumstances, projects of this scale can only be delivered through a partnership approach.
"The fact that the new road layout was opened to traffic at the end of August despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 shows just how strong that partnership was, and I'd like to thank AE Yates, Lynas Engineers and Faithful+Gould for working so closely with the Council over the last few months to ensure a successful outcome.
"I'd also like to thank the local business community and the travelling public for their patience and understanding whilst the works were under way.
"Now that those works are complete, everyone who shared the short-term pain will share the long-term benefits that the scheme will deliver over the coming years."
Gary Reeves, Project Manager of AE Yates Limited Civil Engineering, said: "The project has been challenging both technically and in terms of working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"However, it has been a great example of teamwork and cooperation from all parties.
"The opening of the new Throughabout is the culmination of an incredible effort by everyone to successfully carry out a project as challenging and demanding as any we have undertaken, especially during a pandemic.
"We would like to thank everyone involved or who has supported the project."
Rob Lynas, Managing Director of Lynas Engineers, said: "Lynas Engineers is very proud to have been an integral part of the team delivering the A66 Throughabout scheme having been involved from feasibility through to completion.
"The form of the junction has been the subject of debate, but I believe we have designed a scheme which is clear and safe to use and that will improve capacity to allow future development along the A66 Corridor.
"As a recently formed Tees Valley SME this has been the largest scheme we have been involved with to date and has allowed us to grow the team and employ and develop young local talent, and we are looking forward to more opportunities across the Tees Valley.
"The success of the scheme has shown the importance of all stakeholders working closely together, particularly during the restrictions enforced by the pandemic."
Tom Fenby, Project Quantity Surveyor of Faithful+Gould said: "Faithful+Gould are proud to have supported Middlesbrough Council in successfully delivering this infrastructure project.
"The positive investment by Middlesbrough Council and the Tees Valley Combined Authority will bring large scale benefit to traveling in and around Middlesbrough and help support the local economy.
"It's also clear to see how the scheme will futureproof road links to the surrounding developing areas and attract further investment."
Andrew Bradshaw, Director of Fore Consulting Limited, said: "We were delighted to bring our microsimulation expertise to this project.
"This enabled options to be tested in the most realistic way possible for a range of future flow scenarios and resulted in the best performing and most cost-effective option to be taken forward to the detailed design stage."
- For the latest local updates and information, visit middlesbrough.gov.uk/covid19
For information on local help and support, visit Help Boro at www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/helpboro or call Middlesbrough Council's support line 01642 729777
The latest advice from Government and Public Health England can be found at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus