People campaigning against plans for a second Tyne Tunnel claim the government will push the scheme through.
It is claimed a new tunnel would help improve traffic flow
The results of the public inquiry into the planned development will be announced next year but campaigners believe it could already be a done deal.
Earlier this month, the Transport Secretary announced that millions of pounds was to be invested in improving a number of junctions along the A19.
Campaigners believe that money would not have been made available unless the government intended to go ahead with a second crossing.
The government has insisted it has taken the public inquiry seriously, but said it would not comment on the claims while the issue is still under discussion.
Paul Winch, of opposition group Tyne Crossings Alliance, said: "We were shocked. Here is the government prejudging a matter that has been put to the local people in an inquiry.
"It appears that the government has made its mind up. Maybe it hasn't, but that is the impression we get."
On 9 July, it was announced that a number of junctions on the A19 were to be improved.
They include the A19 Testos Roundabout, A1/A19 Seaton Burn junction, A19/A1058 Coast Road junction and the A19/A189 Moor Farm junction.
The cost of the schemes was estimated at £170m.
The inquiry into a second Tyne Tunnel ran from March 2003 until 30 May 2003.
The inquiry opened after five years of argument over whether the tunnel should be built.
The Tyne and Wear PTA has said the tunnel must be built if congestion on the A19 is to be reduced.