Why Italian holidays are partly to blame for delays at the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel
Italian summer holidays are partly to blame for delays to final works on the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel, it has been revealed.
Bosses on the project decided ‘rather than keep the public waiting’ they would push ahead and start welcoming the public once more, despite work on the new ‘inclined lifts’ still awaiting completion.
Instead, the public have been told to use existing vertical lifts, although they have also been warned this could cause queues as they can only hold two or three people with bicycles at a time.
“The work is complete, there’s just the [inclined] lift left to finish, but it’s there and installed and working,” said project manager Stuart Turnbull.
“But the Italian company we’re using are having trouble with the final testing and unfortunately August is a total close down for them.”
Work on the inclined lifts is expected to be finished by the end of September and will run alongside the original wooden-tread Waygood-Otis escalators, which were the longest in the world at the time of the tunnel’s opening as the North East’s contribution to the 1951 Festival of Britain.
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The pedestrian tunnel closed in May 2013 for ‘minor repairs’ and other works which were expected to be completed by 2015.
The original refurbishment budget was £6.9million but has now risen to £16.2million – and could rise higher still before work is completely finished.
Speaking ahead of the tunnel’s reopening, Mr Turnbull said: “It’s a relief to have the tunnels reopen after so many false dawns.
He added: “Rather than keep the public waiting until the inclined lifts are operational, which we expect to be in mid to late September, we decided to open as early as possible given the long delay on the project and the high levels of anticipation amongst the public.
“We know that many people will want to come down and see the tunnels. Given the restrictions in place, we’d ask that those coming purely out of curiosity to avoid peak commuter times.”