Drivers on the A66 in the North East of England are set to benefit from improved journey times and eased congestion as the new £17.3m six lane Surtees Bridge was officially opened today.
The completion of the work sees Surtees Bridge - which carries the A66 over the River Tees - widened to three lanes in each direction to accommodate new slip roads joining it to the South Stockton Link Road.
During the work the Highways Agency ensured that two lanes of traffic in each direction could continue to cross the bridge at peak times, even when sections of the bridge were being demolished and lane space was much reduced.
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Welcoming the news of the official opening, Transport Minister Tom Harris, said: "Not only will this scheme benefit drivers by easing congestion on this vital link between Darlington and Middlesbrough, but it also offers a safer crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.
"These major improvements have been carried out with minimal disruption for road users. Demolishing and rebuilding a bridge carrying 55,000 vehicles every day is a real achievement and I'd like to pay tribute to the Highways Agency and its contractors for their work here."
Arun Sahni, Project Leader for the Highways Agency, said: "This has been a complex job. Normally for such a scheme we would look to close the bridge, demolish it and then rebuild it. That was not an option at Surtees Bridge because of the number of vehicles using the bridge every day."
He continued: "I would like to pay tribute to my team and to our contractors who have not just worked around these difficulties but have completed a much improved and better looking bridge."