"As a youngster I was always under the illusion that the A19 was all dual carriageway; I suppose this is because of all that civil engineering that went into the Tees flyover and the complicated free-flowing intersection with the A66 (probably one of the best types of junctions ever to be seen off the motorway network), so grand that it gave me the impression that the road would never have useless sections of single carriageway. My Dad destroyed that theory driving us up the A19 off the M62.
Being used to the dualled sections of the A19, it was shocking to realise that there are still single carriageway stretches between Doncaster, Selby, York and Thirsk. Worst still, it's still shocking to see that none of it has been dualled since."
Doncaster - Selby
The A19 starts at a junction with the A638 just to the north of Doncaster itself; this junction has been improved in recent years. It then winds its way through the suburb of Bentley and out into the countryside to the north of the urban area.
Much of the A19's course round here runs through the old Yorkshire coalfield, and there's evidence of this on the way with old slag-heaps and colliery buildings.
It then sets off north towards the village of Askern, itself with a history of mining in the area. There are some long straights north of here, and the surrounds are mostly flat as the road heads towards the M62.
From here, the village of Eggborough has been bypassed in recent years, with the new road travelling from the roundabout near the power station (there are 3 power stations in a row at this point, running west-east: Ferrybridge, Eggborough, and Drax, with its enormous chimney, to the east). The A19 then meets its previous alignment to the north of the village, before travelling through the small village of Burn. Just before Selby is the town bypass and a roundabout meets it, which re-routes the A19 to the south of the town. The road used to head straight towards the centre of Selby, over a level-crossing and on to a busy traffic-light junction with the former A63 from Leeds. The A19 takes the major of the multiplex with the A63 over to a roundabout with the former A63. Then they both go on the old course for a short bit, until the A63 diverges off to Howden and, eventually, Hull. Meanwhile, the A19 heads on north towards York.
Selby - Seaton Burn
On the unfortunate occasions that I have since travelled between Selby and Thirsk the torture of being stuck in congas of cars behind caravans slow lorries, horseboxes and the inevitable mud slinging tractor.
The A19 loses primary status at the Fulford interchange between the A19 and A64 just south of York. The A19 continues as non-primary on a route straight north through the centre of York, multiplexing with the A1036 inner ring road around the central core. After which it strikes northward again as a city street until it reaches the congested roundabout junction with the A1237 York outer ring road.
The road is a good quality S2 with long straights south of the Easingwold bypass, however there are frequent holdups on this section as the route is very frequently used by slow moving tractors from the surrounding farms.
Onward, and the horrible stretch between York and Thirsk was not helped much by the opening of the Easingwold Bypass - why single? Why not dual with grade separation? After 4 fatalities the then-DoT decided that the T-junction at the north end of the by-pass should be replaced—with another roundabout.
But just as the depression sets in, Thirsk comes and the A19 becomes a proper road—yes dual carriageway with proper junctions, albeit some gap intersections, climbing slightly past Knayton and skirting the western edge of the North York Moors then dropping towards the Cleveland Tontine. Eventually after passing the Crathorne/Yarm exit the road hurtles towards Teesside over the Leven Viaduct. About a couple of miles from the Parkway Turn (A174) the road is raised slightly, overlooking Thornaby Industrial Estate and one of Europe's biggest housing estates known as Ingleby Barwick, giving clues that Teesside is imminent. At the Parkway the lighting columns appear then the road widens to 3 lanes, then at Acklam it becomes four before two peel off for the A66 for Stockton and Middlesbrough. At this point the area is surrounded by retail parks, and masses of industry arranged round the A66/A19 freeflowing curved concrete structures that ferry turning traffic from any direction to another.
This road was improved in the late 90's as it was widened from 2 to 3 & 4 lanes between the Parkway and Norton. For once the DoT managed to do something right. Even in rush hour the road still flows quite well.
Past Teesside the road climbs to a rural landscape before hitting Peterlee and the surrounding ex-coal-mining villages all competing with place marketing billboards for industries to locate. Of course further up the road at Sunderland Nissan sits beside the A19, just before the Testos Roundabout. At one time the A19 ended here as the A1 took over to run through the Tyne Tunnel, but the A1 moved to become an accident blackspot by the Angel of the North and the congestion hotspot known as the Western By-pass. To the east the A19 now runs through the Tyne Tunnels. The A19 then continues to rejoin the A1 just north of Newcastle, before the grand old A1 itself fizzles out into a primitive standard single-carriageway effort.
Bypasses apart (at one time the A19 ran along Stockton High Street) the A19 still follows its original route from Doncaster north to Seaham, to the south of Sunderland. The road then ran through the centre of town along what is now the B1522 and then along the A1018 to end in South Shields. The Sunderland bypass and road through the Tyne Tunnel was originally opened as A108. Most of this became the A1 in 1978 when that road was diverted away from the centre of Newcastle; the southern section became the A19 at this time and when the A1 was diverted again - to the west this time - the A19 took over the remainder and so continues to Seaton Burn.