MORE than 1,000 people are demanding transport bosses rethink plans to improve the A69.

Work to create an underpass at Hexham’s Bridge End roundabout is currently on hold while Highways England negotiates diversion routes proposed for a one-year period while roadworks are carried out.

A petition started by county councillor for Hexham West, Derek Kennedy, asking Highways England and Northumberland County Council to scrap current plans has attracted more than 1,000 signatures.

Instead of the work, Coun. Kennedy is calling for the transport agency to provide improvements further west on the A69 by providing additional passing points, dualling the carriageway or upgrading the junctions, including those at Hexham’s west end and Warden, as well as Acomb.

Coun. Kennedy said: “The response has been overwhelming, so a big thank you to all who have signed.

“Those who live and work in and around Hexham and the Tyne Valley recognise that the priority should be to invest in the A69 at its western corridor where we have a single carriageway and dangerous junctions.

“An underpass at Hexham will save 30 seconds commuter time, and this is the wrong scheme.

“The proposed one year of construction will cause untold damage to Hexham’s, and the Tyne Valley’s, economy as people struggle to travel around the district.”

Work has currently stalled at Bridge End as Highways England prepares to amend its diversion plans.

There was widespread anger when the agency suggested it would divert traffic travelling from the west all the way to Corbridge’s Styford roundabout before doubling back to enter Hexham, with motorists leaving the town to head eastbound being asked to turn left on the A69 before turning around at Acomb.

A spokeswoman for Highways England said the organisation is to have a further meeting with Northumberland County Council to refine the traffic management plans.

Major tailbacks have plagued the A69 in the last two weeks as the approaches to Bridge End have been down to one lane during working hours.

The spokeswoman said work to move some of the utilities ahead of the major roadworks is being carried out. Work is due to be completed by the end of the week.

The work at Bridge End is part of a £30m scheme to improve the A69 which includes a flyover at the Styford roundabout – also on hold for further consultation.