Transport chiefs for the region are part way through the roll out of the Tyne Pass project, which they hope will cut queues, journey times and emissions at the key route.
And according to their latest update, they hope the scheme will be complete, with all vehicle barriers removed, by December.
“It’s been brought in in three phases,” said Tyne Tunnels Manger Fiona Bootle.
“Phase One was pay later, which came in in May 2020, phase two was interim free flow, which came out in December 2020.
“Phase three is the full go live for when the barriers will be removed and it’s looking like that will be in around December 2021.”
Ms Bootle was speaking at this afternoon’s (Thursday, April 8) meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Work to encourage drivers to avoid using existing toll booths to pay the fee for using the tunnel saw more than two thirds of drivers using prepaid accounts in February.
This method also offers motorists a ten per cent discount on the usual charge.
About five per cent used the ‘pay later’ option, which Ms Bootle admitted had prompted some opposition.
A letter submitted to the panel claimed some drivers have been fined despite their attempts to settle outstandings charges.
Ms Bootle told the committee the contact centre for processing payments and other issues would be ‘expanding’ ahead of the full roll out.
She also highlighted planned new signs for the tunnel, expected to be coloured either pink or purple, which she hopes will mean fewer motorists are caught out by rules in the future.
She added: “We’re looking at some really distinct signage, that isn’t standard road signs of green and blue that you would see on it on a normal road.
“We’re looking at pink or purple and the point is to really draw people’s eyes to the signs, so the message is really clear for users as to how and when to pay.”