Work to complete Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel set to finally finish by end of 2021
Transport chiefs have predicted the long-awaited refurbishment of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel could be completed by the end of the year after a series of prolonged hold-ups.
Almost two years since it was officially reopened, the work on the historic river crossing is still waiting to be finished, after the coronavirus pandemic locked Italian engineers scheduled to install new lifts out of the country.
But recent months have seen bosses suggest a British firm could be appointed to replace the original contractors, in a bid to draw a line under the serially-delayed project.
“The Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel refurbishment, which for those who have been following for a number of years, has been a long, drawn out process,” said Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Transport North East.
“We will bring that to a conclusion, we hope before the end of this year, and there's discussions underway to make sure that happens.”
Hughes was speaking at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Audit Committee, which met in person in Gateshead for the first time in more than a year.
Work to refurbish the tunnel started in May 2013 and was supposed to take 57 weeks and cost £6.5million.
Although the project remains incomplete, the reopened tunnels have proved popular, with monthly usage higher this year than over the same period last year.
A trial of 24-hour opening in late 2020 also proved successful and is set to continue throughout 2021, with bosses concluding there had been ‘no major concerns or incidents of antisocial behaviour’, with night shift workers especially benefiting from the move.
The tunnel is a key part of plans to improve commuting and cut carbon emissions in South Tyneside.
Plans for a new £1.15million cycle route to the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) on the border of South Tyneside and Sunderland were approved in 2019.
IAMP is expected to create thousands of jobs on a massive site along the A19.