COMMUTERS using the Tyne pedestrian and cyclist tunnels face disruption ahead of a £6m revamp.
Weekend lift closures will affect the transport link between Jarrow and Howdon from Friday, February 22 to Monday 25 and March 1 to 4.
The closures are necessary to repair the faulty lifts, which were only installed in 2010 but which have been blighted by breakdowns.
Repair work will be carried out on the lifts at the tunnels, but only one will be out of service at any one time – and the tunnels themselves will remain open, though the escalators will be switched off.
The repairs come as transport bosses prepare to carry out a major £6m refurbishment of the tunnels, which will each close for a year.
The scheme will include the replacement of outdated wooden escalators and the creation of an inclined lift, plus an upgrade of lighting, electrics and tunnel entrances either side of the river.
Paul Fenwick, project director for the tunnels’ owner, Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “We have scheduled these works for the weekend so as to reduce the inconvenience to commuters who rely on the tunnels to get to and from work. The lifts were installed in 2010 and it is fair to say they have had reliability issues.
“These repairs are needed to replace the faulty components we have now identified as the cause. With the escalators out of service too, cyclists in particular might struggle to negotiate the tunnels.
“I would urge people to avoid using the tunnels over these weekends if they think they may face physical difficulties going up or down the stationary escalators.”
Repair work on the lifts will start after 6pm on Fridays and will be finished before 6am on Mondays.
Opened in 1951, the tunnels have provided a pedestrian and cycling link between both sides of the river for thousands of people for more than 60 years.
During the year-long closure of the tunnels, a free timetabled shuttle bus service, with a trailer for bikes, will operate between 6am and 8pm, seven days a week.
Details can be found at www.tynepedestrianandcyclisttunnels.co.uk