Darlington Eastern Connectivity: Town Centre to Morton Park onward to Teesside International Airport

Closing Date: 31st December 2024

Location: Darlington

Travel

Yarm Road is a key corridor within Darlington and the wider Tees Valley, linking Darlington to Stockton, Yarm, Eaglescliffe and Teesside International Airport.  Within Darlington, Yarm Road provides the main access to employment opportunities at Morton Park, Yarm Road Industrial Estate, Central Park and major employers such as Cummins, EE and Amazon. We want your ideas for how we can improve walking, wheeling, cycling and bus journeys between Darlington, Morton Park, and Teesside International Airport to make these travel choices safer, easier, and quicker.

Darlington Town Centre to Morton Park and Teesside International Airport

Darlington town centre is an important destination for shoppers, employment and visitors. Darlington rail station is located on Parkgate and provides a national transport link to major destinations such as London and regionally to Newcastle and Manchester. Work has already started on transforming Darlington rail station, by delivering access improvements and modernising station facilities. Find out more here.

For an enlarged version of the map, please click here.

Current transport issues

Yarm Road is already a busy road with major employment sites and other popular destinations including Lidl, Aldi, and the Hippodrome Theatre. Many people use this road to get to Darlington Town Centre, the Rail Station, Morton Business Park, and onward travel to Teesside International Airport.

We have identified some transport issues at these locations:

Yarm Road/Parkgate between Town Centre and Neasham Road Roundabout

  • The Stonebridge/Parkgate junction is a key exit point for buses, but also must accommodate other vehicles. Traffic movement has been prioritised over walkers, wheelers and cyclists, who are required to cross the junction in several phases.
  • This section of Parkgate is expected to be busier once the rail station improvement is complete and more traffic uses the new entrance at Neasham Road.
  • The height of the rail bridge and the bridge pillars on Parkgate mean that traffic signals can’t be accommodated (e.g. for a pedestrian crossing).
  • The existing bus lane on Parkgate is fairly short and therefore is of limited use.
  • Some sections of footway are fairly narrow, due to building constraints.

Yarm Road/ Neasham Road Roundabout to McMullen Road Roundabout

  • The signalised junctions along this section of Yarm Road can cause delays for buses, as there is no priority given to them.
  • The access to Darlington Retail Park can get very busy as cars queue to enter and exit the shopping park adding to the delay.
  • There are significant levels of on street parking along some sections of Yarm Road, which can delay traffic.
  • On street parking, especially around junctions can make it difficult for walkers, wheelers and cyclists.

Yarm Road/A67, McMullen Road Roundabout to Teesside International Airport

  • Walkers, wheelers and cyclists have difficulty crossing the A66 close to Morton Palms roundabout.
  • The existing A67 shared-use walk, wheel, and cycle path is narrow and doesn’t currently extend to the airport.
  • Crossing the A67 can be difficult for those walking, wheeling, and cycling, particularly when it is busy.
  • National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 14 to the north of the A67, does not connect to Teesside International Airport. People wanting to walk, wheel, and cycle from Firth Moor, Eastbourne, and other areas south of Darlington town centre to Teesside International Airport, must take a longer route to access the safe off-road path.
  • There is a missing section of cycle path between Mill Lane and Teesside International Airport.
  • NCN Route 14 is not lit and doesn’t have a tarmac surface.
  • There are limited bus journeys to the airport and connectivity at the airport rail station is currently poor.

McMullen Road

  • McMullen Road is a busy route linking the B6280 Yarm Road and B6279 Tornado Way. This is one of Darlington’s main employment areas and there can therefore be lots of traffic at the start and end of the working day.
  • Buses are often held up in traffic on McMullen Road, causing delays and unreliable journeys.
  • There is a cycle path on the east side of McMullen Road and a footpath on both sides of McMullen Road. This could be further improved to encourage more people to walk, wheel, cycle.
  • Buses are often delayed at the Tornado Way / McMullen Road junction.
  • There are a limited number of bus services serving employment sites such as EE, Amazon, which can be an issue for those who work shifts.
Opportunities 

We want to deliver improvements to help improve bus, walking, wheeling, or cycling journeys and make these more attractive travel options.

Here are some opportunities that may help address the issues we have highlighted on this route:

  • Introduce measures to give buses priority over other vehicles, such as a bus lane.
  • Introduce measures at signalised junctions to enable buses to flow more freely.
  • We could improve the layout of junctions and roads to improve them for all road users.
  • We could implement measures that give buses priority at signalised junctions to reduce overall congestion and improve traffic flow.
  • We could enforce restricted access locations (e.g. through cameras).
  • There is an opportunity to fill in gaps in the current cycling network to provide a continuous route for people walking, wheeling, and cycling.
  • Provide new cycle lanes that are separated from traffic where there are none.
  • Separate exiting sections of shared-use footway and cycleway so cyclists do not conflict with pedestrians or people in mobility scooter or wheelchairs.
  • Upgrade road crossings at junctions to allow walkers, wheelers, and cyclists to cross the road safely.
Benefits 

These may offer the following benefits:

  • Buses can bypass waiting traffic and move ahead more quickly.
  • Buses could move through junctions more efficiently.
  • Red light waiting times could reduce for all traffic.
  • Bus users may benefit from quicker bus journeys.
  • Reduced congestion could result in more reliable journeys for all vehicles.
  • Safer, joined up and more attractive walking, wheeling, and cycling paths between Darlington and Morton Park and onwards to Middleton St George and Teesside International Airport.
  • Dedicated paths for cyclists mean they do not need to share road space, reducing conflicts with other road users.
  • Better walking, wheeling, and cycling links between Morton Park and Darlington.
  • Grows the network of cycle routes across Darlington.
Impacts 

We recognise that there may be some impacts, these could include:

  • Vehicles might need to give way to buses.
  • Cars and other vehicles may have to wait slightly longer at the traffic lights or junctions.
  • May require a review of existing parking.
  • The existing road may need to be narrowed to provide space for bus priority, walking, wheeling, and cycle paths.
  • Grass verges or vegetation may need to be cut back.
Other Issues? 

If you think there are other transport issues between Darlington Town Centre, Morton Park, and Teesside International Airport, please let us know on the feedback form.

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Timeline

Stage 1 - Sharing ambitions and vision for transport improvements across Tees Valley. Summer 2023
Stage 2 - Public engagement looking at key issues and opportunities around potential transport solutions. Summer 2024
Stage 3 - Specific consultations after transport plans are further developed with public feedback taken onboard. Later in 2024 / 2025

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