North East motoring transformed ahead of schedule with two Tyne Tunnels

21st November 2011

Following a decade of planning, and almost four years of work on site, North East motorists enjoyed their first taste of a fully operational New Tyne Crossing today (Monday 21st November 2011) as the original Tyne Tunnel re-opened to traffic following refurbishment.

Traffic flow is set to be transformed with two road tunnels available, as the capacity of the river crossing has more than doubled. Congestion on the UK’s busiest ‘A’ road is expected to fall dramatically, making the notorious rush hour tailbacks a thing of the past.

The original road tunnel closed to traffic in February 2011 when the new tunnel, built as part of the £260M New Tyne Crossing project, was commissioned for use. While closed the tunnel underwent a major refurbishment, enabling a dedicated escape passage to be built and state-of-the-art fire safety technology to be installed. The Tyne Tunnels are now the safest road tunnels in the country.

The new look tunnel was unveiled at 10.00am this morning, as northbound traffic was transferred into it, heralding the start of a new era in motoring for the region’s drivers.

Councillor David Wood, Chairman of the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA), Councillor Tom Hanson, Vice Chairman of the TWITA, Councillor James Sewell, Mayor of South Tyneside Council, and Mrs Linda Arkley, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, welcomed the tunnels’ first customers either side of the Tyne. Limited edition golden tunnel permits were handed out to the first ten drivers through each tunnel, to commemorate the moment the region’s motorists have eagerly awaited.

Councillor Wood said: “This is another historic day for Tyne & Wear. To see traffic flowing through both Tyne Tunnels, and an end to the queues, gives me tremendous pleasure.

“This milestone is the culmination of a lot of hard work by thousands of people. I pay tribute especially to the contribution made by the Concessionaire TT2, by the contractor Bouygues and all of its sub-contractors, and by the Transport Authority’s team in enabling the project to be delivered ahead of schedule.

“The dualling of the A19 between Seaton Burn and North Yorkshireis now complete. I look forward to not hearing the Tyne Tunnels mentioned on every traffic bulletin as a pinch-point on the region’s roads!

“I also look forward to the Tunnels contributing to the economic growth of the area, and to improving the links between people and job opportunities.”

Elected Mayor for North Tyneside, Mrs Linda Arkley, said: “This is a pivotal event for North Tyneside, and for the region as a whole. Now that we have two vehicle tunnels carrying traffic under the Tyne, supported by the initial improvements to the  junction at Silverlink, we will see a transformation of traffic flow on the A19, making a huge difference to drivers who use the route. The TT2 project has provided us with an enviable link to the south of the region, which can only encourage more people to live, shop and do business here, and that is fantastic news for the borough.”

The Leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Iain Malcolm, welcomed the news. He said: “Today is a major regeneration milestone and I am delighted to see that both tunnels are now fully operational. A second vehicle tunnel under the Tyne will go a long way to help connect the residents of South Tyneside with job opportunities.

“This project is a fine example of partnership working and to see the project complete on budget and two weeks ahead of schedule is not only excellent news for the people of South Tyneside, but also for the wider North East region.

“Now that both tunnels are open, the new Tyne crossings will reduce congestion for public transport, haulage and car users on this major route.

“Improved transport links to development areas along the A19 will enhance the regional economy and provide significant opportunities for jobs and business growth.

“With state of the art safety features, the new tunnels are the safest in the country and I would like to thank all of our partners for their efforts in making this important project a success.

Councillor Tom Hanson, Vice Chairman of the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority and local councillor for the Bede ward in Jarrow added: “I am delighted to see both tunnels fully operational.

“The construction and refurbishment phases of the project have been carried out with great care and consideration for the people of Jarrow and I praise Bouygues, TT2 and the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority for the sensitivity they have shown in managing such a demanding and complex project.

“I would especially like to congratulate the people of Jarrow for their involvement and positive attitude throughout this project.
The nature of the construction works has caused unavoidable disruption, however local people have been extremely understanding and I give my heartfelt thanks for their patience.”

Nicolas Caille, Project Managing Director for Bouygues Travaux Publics UK, the main design and build contractor for the project, was also present to watch the first motorists travel through the dual tunnel site. He said: “I feel very relieved today, seeing the two tunnels up and running. This has been a complex and at times challenging project, and I am very proud that we’ve been able to re-open the tunnel earlier than planned. We’ve worked very hard to get here, and I would like to thank everyone who has played a part in the project. This is a very proud moment.”

Trevor Jackson, Managing Director for TT2, the Concessionaire of the New Tyne Crossing project, said: “This is the moment we have all been waiting for. Not only are we able to offer our customers two state-of-the-art road tunnels to get them to their destinations quicker, I am delighted that we’ve been able to achieve this ahead of schedule. Our customers and neighbours have been incredibly patient during the works. I hope they’ll agree that the wait has been worthwhile.”
 
The tunnels link East Howdon north of the Tyne with Jarrow in the south and, with two tunnels now in use, the project completes the dualling of the A19.

Low resolution images attached. High resolution images available upon request.
PHOTO 1: First driver northbound on the A19 receives commemorative gift from (L-R) Cllr Sewell, Mayor of South Tyneside, Trevor Jackson, Managing Director of TT2, and Cllr Hanson, Vice Chairman of the TWITA.                                                                                                                               
PHOTO 2 : First driver northbound from the Jarrow loop road receives commemorative gift from (L-R) Cllr Sewell, and Cllr Hanson, Vice Chairman of the TWITA.
PHOTO 3: First cars enter refurbished northbound tunnel.
PHOTO 4: Bouygues’ construction workers welcome first motorists to refurbished northbound tunnel.
PHOTO 5: Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Linda Arkley, meets first southbound motorists at Howdon tolls plaza.
PHOTO 6: Cllr David Wood, Chairman of the TWITA, meets first southbound motorists at Howdon tolls plaza.

ENDS
For media enquiries please contact Tamsin Greulich at TT2 on 0191 259 8189 or 07866 565 457 or Felicity Amer at Bradley O’ Mahoney PR on 0191 265 8803.

NOTES
1.    The New Tyne Crossing project is a £260M scheme to dual the A19 beneath the Tyne by building a second road tunnel, and associated highways structures. The project also involved a major refurbishment of the 1967-built Tyne Tunnel.
2.    With two tunnels up and running, the original, refurbished tunnel provides two lanes of traffic for northbound travel, while the new road tunnel offers two lanes for southbound traffic.
3.    The design capacity of the original tunnel was 24,000 vehicles per day. The combined capacity of the two road tunnels is now 78,000 vehicles per day.
4.    A survey published by Inrix Traffic Services  in May 2011 identified the Tyne Tunnel as the fourth worst traffic hotspot in the United Kingdom, and the only UK ‘A’ road to feature in the list of top ten busiest traffic sites.
5.    The new vehicular tunnel is only the third in Britain to be built using immersed tube technology in the river section. The land tunnels built either side of the Tyne involved a variety of construction techniques, predominantly cut-and-cover tunnels as well as approximately 70 metres of Sprayed Concrete Lining, which enabled the tunnel to be built beneath major utility connections without disturbing them.
6.    The Project Promoter is the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA).
7.    TWITA appointed TT2 Limited as the New Tyne Crossing Concessionaire, responsible for the design and build of the new road tunnel, the refurbishment of the original tunnel, and the operation and maintenance of all tunnels (including the pedestrian and cyclist tunnels) over a thirty year concession period.
8.    TT2 Ltd appointed Bouygues Travaux Publics UK as the main Design and Build Contractor for the project, responsible for the construction of the new road tunnel and associated structures, as well as the refurbishment of the original vehicle tunnel.

First cars enter northbound tunnel 21 November 2011