Newcastle Central Motorway closure: Police hope to reopen road by end of week

The road was closed throughout the weekend following a city centre fire.
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Northumbria Police are hoping the Central Motorway in Newcastle can be partially reopened by the end of this week as the force and partners continue to deal with the aftermath of a city centre blaze.

On Wednesday, June 28, emergency services were called to Carliol Square in Newcastle after fire engulfed a disused building.

An operation was led by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service throughout the night to extinguish the blaze.

Newcastle Central Motorway closure: Police hope to reopen road by end of weekNewcastle Central Motorway closure: Police hope to reopen road by end of week
Newcastle Central Motorway closure: Police hope to reopen road by end of week

The fire damage has severely impacted the structural integrity of the building, and amid fears that debris could fall into the road and pose a potential threat to life, the northbound carriageway of the Central Motorway closed.

Initial checks to establish if anyone was inside have been completed, but the priority from emergency services is now to make the building safe enough so that more detailed searches can be carried out to confirm this is not the case.

Once that happens and any outstanding safety concerns are put at rest, it is anticipated the road can re-open.

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It is currently hoped that one lane of the northbound carriageway will be partially re-opened by the weekend, but as things stand, it is likely to remain closed throughout this week.

Police are treating the cause of the fire as suspected arson and eight people have been arrested as part of the ongoing investigation.

Chief Inspector David Wheeler, of Northumbria Police, said: “First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone across the North East for their continued patience and cooperation.

“We know that the closure of the Central Motorway has had a significant impact on road users in recent days, with increased traffic and widespread disruption across the region.

“This is not a decision that was made lightly, and everyone’s aim is to get the road back open as soon as possible. It is hoped that there will be a partial re-opening by the weekend, but I must stress that these are only current estimates based on the information we have, and could change.

“Ultimately public safety is paramount, and with the building in its current condition, we cannot risk any debris falling onto the carriageway and hitting vehicles or drivers. This could cause potentially fatal injuries.

“A huge amount of work is ongoing at the site between various organisations, and we will update you as soon as possible once it is safe to reopen the road.

“In the meantime, diversions remain in place and we’d encourage everyone to research their journeys before setting off, allowing extra time to get to your destination.”

On the ongoing investigation into the fire, Ch Insp Wheeler provided an update after further arrests were made over the weekend.

Ch Insp Wheeler added: “We are determined to establish the cause of the fire which we are treating as suspected arson, and since Thursday we have made a total of eight arrests.

“Those eight suspects have been released on police bail and enquiries are very much ongoing.

A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “The building is in a dangerous condition so with the agreement of the police the council has asked a demolition contractor to carry out a partial demolition so the police can do their job safely.

“Once they have concluded their enquiries on site, the building will be handed over to the city council when we will progress its demolition. Once it is safe to do so, we will reopen the road.

“We appreciate this has caused some inconvenience to road users for a number of days now, however their safety remains our highest priority. The road will remain closed until it is safe to reopen it.

“We believe that motorists are now using alternative routes as traffic flows have increased over the Redheugh Bridge and through the Tyne Tunnel.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or report online via the ‘Tell us Something’ page of Northumbria Police’s website, quoting NP-20230628-1077.