05 July 2012
The completion of a major 318m pounds scheme to upgrade 13 miles of the A1 to a motorway was officially marked today (5 July) with a colourful look at times past.
Highways Agency Chief Executive Graham Dalton visited the upgraded section from Dishforth to Leeming, and was accompanied by creative pupils from Burneston Church of England Primary School.
The village school won a competition to create a piece of artwork celebrating the history and heritage of the A1: 'The A1 Through the Ages - From Chariots to Trucks'.
All 26 children at the school, aged between 6 and 8, helped to create the winning entry, which illustrated the story of the road through the ages. A judging panel, including archaeologist Steve Sherlock, praised the artwork for its original composition and imaginative use of materials.
Graham Dalton presented Burneston pupils with a cheque for 500 pounds donated by the contractor Joint Venture Carillion-Morgan Sindall, to reward their hard work during a ceremony at Healam Bridge, near Dishforth, the location of a Roman 'industrial estate' linked to an imperial fort built 2,000 years ago.
He was joined by David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council Corporate Director for Business & Environmental Services, to cut a ribbon and unveiled a special commemorative plaque.
Mr Dalton commented: "I am delighted to visit the completed scheme and mark the hard work that has gone into delivering the new A1 motorway between Dishforth and Leeming. The scheme is designed to reduce accidents and improve journey times in the present and future, but there is no escaping the past at a site as historically important as Healam Bridge. The pupils from Burneston Primary have done a wonderful job of depicting that heritage, and they can be justly proud of their achievements. They, like the team behind the motorway upgrade project, should be applauded for their success."
Work on the A1 Dishforth to Leeming scheme started in March 2009. In addition to a providing new dual three-lane motorway, the project also includes the provision of a new local access road alongside the A1(M), which takes local traffic from the surrounding communities and provides access to the strategic road network at two new junctions. This will contribute to safety by ensuring that local traffic use routes appropriate for these journeys.
Motorway junctions are provided at junction 49 Dishforth, junction 50 Baldersby (A61) and junction 51 Leeming. The scheme between Dishforth and Leeming was split into four works sections. Section 1 between Dishforth and Baldersby opened six months early in October 2011 and all the remaining sections fully opened as a motorway on 31 March this year.
Constructing the scheme involved bringing in a staggering 270,000 wagon loads of materials, building 11 new bridges, demolishing six others, laying 106 miles of drains and erecting 44 miles of fencing.
To keep the traffic flowing efficiently 26 new variable message signs to provide up to date information to drivers have also been installed. To enhance the environment, 180,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, with a further 36,000 to be planted.
Highways Agency project manager David Brindle said: "The official opening of the A1 between Dishforth and Leeming is a significant milestone to improve one of the key transport routes in the North of England. Upgrading this section of the A1 to a motorway will improve safety, reduce congestion and make journey times more reliable - this can only be good news for road users and the economy. We would like to thank all those who have been affected by the works for their patience during the delivery of these essential improvements."
Today's completion ceremony was followed by a special exhibition at Solberge Hall Hotel highlighting key milestones and achievements in the upgrade scheme. The exhibition also looked back at the history of the 'Dere Street' Roman Road in North Yorkshire and included a display of all entries in the primary school artwork competition.
The other schools to participate in the contest were Aiskew Leeming Bar Church of England Primary, Leeming and Londonderry Community Primary and Baldersby St James Church of England School.
The competition tied in perfectly with the heritage of the area. Rich archaeological findings were unearthed and discovered between July 2009 and August 2010. The key finding was a Roman 'industrial estate', linked to a known imperial fort at Healam Bridge, near Dishforth, built some 2,000 years ago.
There was also an indication that the Roman occupants may have worn socks. Rust on the nail from a Roman sandal appeared to have impressions from fibres, which could suggest that a sock-type garment was being worn.
Other artefacts uncovered on the A1 included animal bones, pottery, coins, metal work and brooches, and 14 human cremations were found in individual pits, along with the well-preserved skeleton of a horse underneath a building. The animal is thought to have been slaughtered as a sacrifice to the gods to bring the building good luck.
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