Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has officially opened the upgraded stretch of the A1(M) beteen Leeming and Barton.
The £400m Highways England upgrade – the biggest road building project in the north of England – means there are now motorway links all the way between Newcastle and London.
The extra capacity which comes from adding an extra lane in each direction near Catterick promises to reduce journey times by a fifth, and with safety benefits leading to less accidents, it is predicted to pump more than £1billion in the economy.
This story continues after the adverts:
Over the next 60 years the improved road is predicted to prevent 450 accidents and save 20 lives.
The upgrade is part of the government’s £15 billion roads investment strategy, which is transforming the road network and improving connections between cities.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “Our record investment to improve our roads is making a real difference to people’s lives – providing quicker and safer journeys for millions of drivers.
“This scheme will not only save motorists time stuck in traffic, but will also help unlock £1billion into the economy.
“It also fills in the missing link to provide motorway-standard roads between Newcastle and London, helping businesses in the north by opening up new opportunities thanks to better and more reliable connections to the rest of the country.”
Highways England Senior Project Manager Tom Howard said: “This is great news for the almost 70,000 drivers who already use this section every day and whose journeys will be safer and faster.
“At the same time we’ve also made it easier for local people to access the A1 safely, and we’ve planted miles of hedgerows and acres of woodland.
“This has been the biggest road project in the north and I would like to thank everybody involved in the scheme for their hard work and commitment in making it happen.”