A MAJOR £30m upgrade of the A69 at Hexham is set to reach a key milestone over the next week.

Engineers are currently working on a major redesign of the Bridge End Roundabout, which will see the dual carriageway run underneath the roundabout, with slip roads at either side.

The bridge decks, which will form the new circulatory part of the junction over the new A69 carriageway, are being lifted into their final position ahead of a grand opening to traffic this summer.

Highways England said construction of the east and west bridge walls had been finished in preparation for lifting the decks onto the supporting walls.

A spokesman for Highways England said: "The east retaining wall, which supports soil and earth adjacent to the structure, will be built in April.

"The next few months will focus on street lighting, signs, kerbs, road surfacing, new fencing, barriers on slip roads, the roundabout and the A69 itself.

"After this summer’s opening to traffic, landscaping and planting (including some wildflowers native to the area) will be carried out, with all traffic management removed by the autumn."

Highways England said the scheme will improve safety, reduce congestion, support economic growth and enhance access from the A69 into the town.

The A69 is a key trans-Pennine route connecting Newcastle and Carlisle, and used by thousands of drivers every day.

Since work got underway last year, 200,000 tonnes of earth has been removed to create the excavation 11 metres below the old roundabout where the new A69 will run. Stone work for the new road is 75 per cent complete, with 20,000 tonnes of locally-sourced quarried stone.