But project chiefs have now added the crossing’s lifts to a list of problems including asbestos and collapsed contractors which have now delayed its completion until at least July.
A spokesperson for the North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), which is overseeing the scheme, said: “Reopening was scheduled for June 2019, but we’ve had to push back the date slightly until July.
“The refurbishment works are complete but we have the final commissioning and testing of the new glass inclined lift which we need to conclude before we can confirm the opening date, but this will be within the next couple of weeks.
“This has been a major project using specialist contractors to restore the old dilapidated tunnels to their former glory and we’re looking forward to it being brought back into public use.”
Work on the tunnels started in May 2013 and was supposed to be finished by 2015, but has been dogged by problems.
Costs have ballooned from an original budget of about £6.9million to an expected final cost of £15.65million.
The tunnel opened in 1951 after taking four years to build at a cost of £833,000.
In October 2018, a report for the Jarrow and Boldon Community Area Forum predicted work would be finished by the end of 2018.
But by the following March, Newcastle City Council, which manages the tunnels, was insisting the project would be finished by ‘late May/early June’.
South Tyneside councillor Alan Smith, who represents Jarrow’s Fellgate and Hedworth ward and who sites on the JTC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee said he hoped the previously ‘well-used’ tunnels would be back in action soon.
He added: “There’s a lot happening and I’ve got total sympathy for the people doing it, but I also feel frustration that it should have been done about 12 months ago.”