THE Tyne pedestrian and cyclist tunnels from Jarrow to Howdon are to be closed for refurbishment for a year, starting next month.
Newcastle-based contractor GB Building Solutions has been appointed to carry out the £4.9m revamp of the Grade II-listed tunnels.
The work will include replacing two of the original four escalators with inclined lifts.
The two other escalators will be opened up to public view and illuminated with feature lighting.
The tunnels’ aging mechanical and electrical systems will also be upgraded.
During the closure, set to begin on Monday, May 20, a free shuttle bus service for pedestrians and cyclists will run between the tunnels’ entrances from 6am and 8pm seven days a week. An overnight service will also be provided for night-shift workers who pre-register with TT2, the company that manages the tunnels for the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority.
Project director Paul Fenwick said: “All four original escalators are now out of service and beyond economic repair, so this refurbishment will give the tunnels a new lease of life and will greatly improve the experience for users.
“Inclined lifts are rare in Britain, and we expect them to become something of an attraction in themselves once the tunnels reopen.”
The refurbishment is being paid for out of the Tyne tunnels’ revenue account so there will be no cost to council tax payers.
The Grade II-listed tunnels, opened in 1951, are used for about 20,000 journeys each month.