WORK to improve congestion and reduce journey times along the A69 is now in its final stages.

An open for traffic ceremony was held on October 7 at the £30m A69 Bridge End roundabout upgrade, Hexham.

The National Highways led project, which began in 2019, has seen the existing A69 mainline sunk below the roundabout to provide free flowing east-west traffic - a move the company has said will improve the safety and reliability of journeys to and from Hexham.

A new stretch of dual carriageway has been built under the existing roundabout and two bridges have also been constructed to form a new junction.

MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman, and local councillors from Northumberland County Council (NCC) and Hexham Town Council all visited the scheme.

Describing the work as a "key piece of infrastructure", Hexham MP Guy Opperman said: "It's a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate the dozens and dozens of local jobs that this project has produced but also the 16 local businesses who have benefitted from the investment that's taken place and have been able to provide work and jobs during the pandemic."

He added: "There is no question that this is the start of further work that's going to be done on the A69 as we try to improve the road to the west all the way to Carlisle."

The roundabout opened to traffic mid-September and was followed by one lane of the mainline A69 at the end of the month.

Over the coming weeks, road surfacing works will be carried out, where lane closures will be in place and some overnight closures required.

A new drainage road crossing is also to be installed on Saturday, October 16, where a 24-hour closure is planned for the westbound exit slip road.

"It's a fantastic scheme; anybody who uses this will probably save about an hour, at least, on their journey times", said Simon Boyle, divisional director for operations with National Highways Yorkshire-North-East.

"We continue to invest in the network in the North-East region."

The scheme has attracted considerable debate online with many suggesting other stretches of Tynedale road would have benefitted more from investment.