A68 shield
A68
A68 road map.png
Major junctions
FromDarlington
Major intersections
ToEdinburgh City Bypass
Location
CountryUnited Kingdom
Primary
destinations
Road network
A67 A69

The A68 is a major road in the United Kingdom, running from Darlington in England to the A720 in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It crosses the Anglo-Scottish border at Carter Bar and is the only road to do so for some distance either way; the next major crossings are the A697 from Coldstream to Cornhill-on-Tweed in the east, and the A7 near Canonbie to the west.

Route

Border at Carter Bar
Border at Carter Bar

The southernmost section of the A68, as it leaves Darlington, has been described as a "rustbelt".[1] In January 2022 there was a proposal to widen key roundabouts in Darlington to ease traffic flow.[2] The road crosses the A1(M) at Copshaw Hill Interchange.[3] It bypasses Bishop Auckland and runs through West Auckland, Toft Hill and Tow Law, where Durham County Council has installed a live camera so that drivers can check traffic and weather.[4] It then passes Consett and Corbridge; it used to pass through the centre of the town but since 1979 has run on a bypass to the east, crossing the River Tyne over Styford Bridge.[5] During the construction of the bypass, Roman burials, glass and coins were found, and some traces of Dere Street.[6] To return to the previous route of the A68 it is concurrent with the A69 for 2.9 miles (4.7 km), before turning off north again. The road passes through rural Northumberland, following the route of Dere Street for much of this stretch, which is considered highly scenic.[7]

The A68 crosses the Scottish border at Carter Bar, then runs through the Border towns of Jedburgh, St Boswells, Earlston and Lauder before going over Soutra Hill, passing through Pathhead and by-passing Dalkeith, before terminating at Millerhill Junction on the A720.[8] Until September 2008, the A68 passed through Dalkeith; the opening of a bypass removed large volumes of traffic from the town centre and led to a reduction in accidents.[9] The northern section is used by commuters to Edinburgh, as well as long-distance traffic.[10]

In August 2020 part of the road near Fala collapsed after heavy rain.[11] It reopened the following month.[12][13]

Part of the A68 is a trunk road from the boundary with Midlothian to the border at Carter Bar, managed by BEAR Scotland for Transport Scotland.[14][15] The English section as far south as the junction with the A696 to Newcastle was previously a trunk road,[16] but was detrunked in 2001 as part of the government's "New Deal for Trunk Roads in England" report published three years earlier.[17]

Along with the A696, the A68 forms an alternative route between Newcastle Upon Tyne and Edinburgh to the A1 which runs along the coast via Berwick Upon Tweed, and is the more scenic of the two.[18]

History

The A68 follows the Roman Dere Street north of Corbridge, crossing Hadrian's Wall, and shares its route as far as the historic camps of Habitancum and Bremenium. The area contains numerous Roman forts.[19]

The current route across Carter Bar was proposed by John Loudon McAdam in 1828. It was constructed over the following decade, and featured bridges designed by James Jardine.[20]

Safety

The A68 was the 20th most dangerous UK road in 2017.[21] In 2021, the Scottish government announced funding for safety improvements in Pathhead.[22] In England, some MPs have lobbied for similar safety improvements along the road.[23]

See also

References

  1. ^ Priestley, Catherine (26 June 2021). "MPs lobby roads minister for upgrades and bypasses for 'rust belt' A68". The Northern Echo.
  2. ^ Edgar, Bill (21 January 2022). "Public consultation on major redesign in Darlington which could see home demolished". The Northern Echo.
  3. ^ "A1(M) J58 Copshaw Hill Interchange". roads.org. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  4. ^ "A68 Tow Law - Durham County Council". www.durham.gov.uk.
  5. ^ "New £3m road link opens at Styford". Hexham Courant. 12 October 1979. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Library". archaeologydataservice.ac.uk.
  7. ^ McGuinness, Tim (9 January 2021). "14 great views of Northumberland you can see from the A68". ChronicleLive.
  8. ^ "A720 Millerhill Junction". roads.org. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  9. ^ Transport Scotland. "3YA Evaluation Report for A68(T) Dalkeith Bypass" (PDF). p. 43.
  10. ^ A68 Pathhead to Tynehead Improvement Scheme Stage 3 Environmental Statement (PDF). Transport Scotland (Report). June 2008. p. iii. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  11. ^ "'Technical challenges' face A68 landslide road repair". BBC News. 17 August 2020.
  12. ^ Ritchie, Cameron (7 September 2020). "A68 reopens after entire section of carriageway rebuilt following storm damage". East Lothian Courier.
  13. ^ Rinaldi, Giancarlo (8 September 2020). "A68 at Fala: The collapsed road rebuilt in under a month". BBC News.
  14. ^ "Trunk Roads". Scottish Borders Council. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  15. ^ Transport Scotland. "Trunk roads" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Road Network". Hansard. 5 August 1976. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  17. ^ Sixty Years of Highway Infrastructure - Motorway and Trunk Road Development in the North East (PDF) (Report). Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  18. ^ "Britain's most scenic country roads". CountryFile. 2 February 2019. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  19. ^ de la Bedoyere, Guy (2010). Hadrian's Wall - History and Guide. Amberley. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-445-61213-3.
  20. ^ A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland. Vol. 1. Thomas Telford. 2002. pp. 360, 417.
  21. ^ "Revealed: The most dangerous roads in Scotland and the UK". The Scotsman. 1 February 2018.
  22. ^ "Local MSP welcomes funding to improve road safety in Pathhead". Edinburgh News. 23 November 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2022.
  23. ^ "County Durham and Darlington MPs lobby for A68 improvements". Northern Echo. 26 June 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2022.

Coordinates: 55°17′34″N 2°18′41″W / 55.29268°N 2.31144°W / 55.29268; -2.31144