Full southbound closure planned overnight on A1 at Birtley for emergency works following discovery of 4m void

Roadworks on the A1 around the Coal House roundabout
-Credit: (Image: ncjMedia)

National Highways has announced an emergency "full southbound closure" on the A1 (M) on Thursday evening for "investigations and remedial work".

It comes after issues with mine workings and a large void were discovered close to the road.

The carriageway between junctions 68 and 65 will now be completely closed from 7pm until 6am on Friday. At that point a two-lane closure will remain in place from junction 66 at Eighton Lodge to beyond junction 65 at Birtley. The exit slip road at Birtley will remain closed meaning there will be no access to the A1231 from the A1 southbound.

This comes after a "four-metre void" was discovered close to the road overnight on Wednesday, and there were significant delays throughout the day with one lane closed. These delays are set to continue, highways bosses said.

Engineers working on the pre-existing works at the Birtley to Coal House scheme (junctions 65 to 67) discovered what was described as "mine workings" overnight. The "void" was then discovered - and though it has been filled and made safe, National Highways personnel are now to further investigate the issue and carry out permanent repairs.

The agency warned: "Significant delays are expected so please consider alternative routes or not travelling unless absolutely necessary. We will continue to issue updates as it becomes clear how long the closures will be needed for."

National Highways Project Manager Helen Burrow said: "The void was backfilled and made safe; however, for the continued safety of drivers and the workforce, we’re putting the closures in place while we carry out additional investigations and make permanent repairs.

"Unfortunately, these closures will require diversions and lead to delays; however, they are essential to make sure everybody gets to their destination safely. We strongly advise everyone planning to travel in this area this week to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys, avoid the area and find alternative routes if at all possible. They may wish to delay their journeys and avoid travelling during peak times."

The National Highways customer contact centre is also available at 0300 123 5000 or email info@nationalhighways.co.uk