Residents are backing a council leader’s call for action over the repeated delays to the refurbishment of the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel.
Since closing for renovations in 2013, the project has missed its original deadline of 2015 and according to the latest indications won’t reopen until Christmas at least.
It has now been more than five years since it was shut for renovations, installation of lifts, and replacement of the tunnel’s outdated mechanical and electrical systems.
This was originally budgeted at about £6.9million, but the expected final cost has now ballooned to more than £15.5million.
It was due to re-open in the autumn, but a report for the North East Combined Authority’s (NECA) Leadership Board has admitted this is likely to be pushed back again.
South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm has pushed for a more detailed update on the scheme’s progress.
He said that is was not fair on the people north and south of the Tyne that it has gone on so long.
He said:“I know it’s problems with the contractors, we really need to get this pedestrian tunnel open.”
Residents have backed the call to reopen the tunnel sooner rather than later.
Paul Rogers said: “It originally opened in 1951 and they did not expect to find as much asbestos or as much damage to cement.“How long do they expect cement to last, especially were it is?”
Dave Langley commented: “Think someone deserves the sack for this incompetence.
“Why not have penalty clauses in any construction contract?”
Ian Black wrote: “It would have been quicker if they dug a new one with teaspoons.”
Paul and Yvonne Cowey said: “It would have been cheaper to build a new one.”
Kenny Johnston commented: “Could of built a new one in shorter time.”
Wayne Lowdon Coleman: “Easier and cheaper to build a bridge.”
Delays have dogged work on the tunnel since it began in 2013. Progress was slowed almost immediately, following the discovery of asbestos and in 2015 the original contractor, GB Building Solutions, went into administration.
NECA then took over responsibility for the project but faced even more problems, including issues with suppliers and another contractor working on the scheme, Vaughan Engineering, also entered administration.
Newcastle City Council, which is managing the project on behalf of the combined authority, said the refurbishment had been beset by a series of issues which have resulted in a number of delays.