Tunnels work is delayed yet again

MORE DELAYS ... the entrance to the pedestrian and cyclist tunnels.
MORE DELAYS ... the entrance to the pedestrian and cyclist tunnels.

COMMUTERS in South Tyneside face more disruption after the completion date for a revamp of the Tyne pedestrian and cyclist tunnels was put back again.

The Grade II-listed tunnels between Howdon and Jarrow have been closed since May last year, and the £4.9m revamp was expected to be finished by August this year.

But the re-opening was put back to February 2015 as contractors GB Building Solutions needed to remove asbestos from the lining in the escalator shafts and lower halls, which have a problem with corrosion.

Now it has emerged that date has been revised again to June 2015.

A free, scheduled shuttle bus and a night service for shift workers will continue to operate during the closure.

Paul Fenwick, project director for the Grade II-listed tunnels, said: “Once we decided to fully address the asbestos and corrosion issues, we believed the works could be completed by February or March. When the bids came back from prospective specialist contractors, it became obvious that the works would take longer than we had originally hoped. The alternative transport measures we put in place – providing a free replacement shuttle bus and a night service – have proved highly successful, and will continue until the tunnels re-open.”

One of the features of the refurbishment will be the replacement of two of the original wooden-step escalators with inclined lifts.

About 20,000 journeys are made each month through the tunnels, which opened in 1951.

The tunnels’ ageing mechanical and electrical systems are also being upgraded.

Further details can be found at www.tynepedestrianandcyclisttunnels.co.uk.