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'Sunderland is a city where great things happen': Government minister predicts brighter future for city after £40million funding for key A1231 road scheme announced

On a day when the Department of Transport pledged £40.5million to fund the next phase of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg tells readers why the city can look forward to a brighter future...

Sunderland has long played a vital role in powering the UK economy - from its proud shipbuilding heritage to its car and advanced manufacturing industries, as well as its busy port.

But for this city’s great success story to continue in future, it needs the very best transport network. So last week I was delighted to see the Chancellor announce £10million for cities in the region, including Sunderland, to help local people get around. The money, which is expected to be the first stage of a larger package of investment, comes from the Government’s £2.5billion Transforming Cities Fund. It aims to improve local journeys and tackle congestion in some of England’s biggest cities through innovative and sustainable transport schemes. In Sunderland almost £1.5million will be spent on better cycle links between the city and key employment areas.

These projects will help turn into Sunderland into an even more pleasant place to live and work by cutting traffic, giving people the confidence to leave their cars at home.In addition, the funding will be used to improve bus and cycle routes and provide better pedestrian access on roads in Newcastle and across Tyne and Wear. Work will start immediately on these projects and in the nine other English cities awarded a total of £60million from the Fund.But we want to go even further in developing a transport network fit for the future - so that cities like Sunderland can continue to turbocharge the UK economy.

That’s why my department has today pledged £40.5million to fund the latest phase of the new Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor road, which will cut journey times across the city.And this week marks the start of a £125million programme of improvements on the A19 to reduce tailbacks around the Nissan plant and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park. It's also vital that we continue to improve all modes of transport for the benefit of Sunderland and the North East as a whole.

As Aviation Minister I’ve seen first-hand the real success of Newcastle Airport. It’s my expectation that new capacity at Heathrow, would help provide greater opportunity for even more international flight connections for the North East.And the Government is committed to creating more efficient rail journeys between the region and the rest of the country through major projects such as High Speed 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.But to secure the success of cities in the North East and across the country in the coming decades, it’s crucial that we innovate.So, this week my department launched a £90million competition to create four new Future of Mobility Zones, where new transport technologies can be piloted.

The competition is a key part of the Government’s new Future of Mobility Urban Strategy, which aims to prepare this country for the transport technologies of tomorrow. Like other cities that have already submitted winning bids to the Transforming Cities Fund, Sunderland is invited to apply for a share of the money and create a Future of Mobility zone of its own.But whatever the next steps, history has proved that Sunderland is a city where great things happen.And I am quite sure that the new improvements to the city’s transport network will make its future an even brighter one.