COMMUTERS face more disruption after the completion date for a revamp of the Tyne pedestrian and cyclist tunnels was put back by six months.
The Grade II-listed tunnels have been closed since May last year, and the £4.9m revamp was expected to be finished by August this year.
However, the tunnels are not now expected to re-open until February 2015.
Contractors GB Building Solutions need to remove asbestos from the lining in the escalator shafts and lower halls, which have a problem with corrosion.
Paul Fenwick, project director for the tunnels’ owner, the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA), said: “Conditions in the tunnel have proved a lot worse than we anticipated, and major works to treat asbestos-containing materials, the presence of which we could have had no knowledge of before the works started, are now necessary if the tunnels are to continue to be an important transport link for future generations.”
About 20,000 journeys are made each month through the tunnels, which opened in 1951.
Work was necessary to address the corrosion in the escalator shafts and lower halls, while two of the original wooden-step escalators with inclined lifts needed to be replaced.
The tunnels’ aging mechanical and electrical systems are also being upgraded.
During the closure, a free replacement shuttle bus and a night service for shift workers have operated, and will continue to do so until the tunnels reopen.
Details can be found at www.tynepedestrianandcyclisttunnels.co.uk.