Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, has officially opened the second Tyne Tunnel, 45 years after opening the first vehicle Tyne Tunnel in 1967.
The Queen met those involved in the delivery of the £260 million New Tyne Crossing project, as well as representatives of local communities before giving a speech and unveiling a plaque to mark the official opening.
She said: “Forty five years after I came here to open the first road tunnel under the River Tyne, Prince Philip and I are delighted to return for the official opening of Tyne Tunnel Two.
“I know that the first tunnel has made a huge difference to people’s lives in Tyneside, opening up access for many communities once so divided by this great river.
“As car ownership increased, the need for a second tunnel became clear.
“After some four years of construction using the latest technology, the highest standards of safety and a commendable attention to the needs of surrounding neighbourhoods, both tunnels opened to vehicles last November.
“And the task of relieving the congestion of traffic in Newcastle and Gateshead has undoubtedly been achieved, giving a better quality of life to residents, businesses and commuters.
“Time once lost to traffic jams can now be spent with family and friends.
“Now the project is complete, I would like to congratulate all those who have played a part – the planners, the financers, the engineers and contractors, everyone who has contributed to this great achievement of immense benefit to the north east region. You can all be proud of a job well done.”
The New Tyne Crossing project was initiated and promoted by the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA).
The project boasts a number of UK firsts; a Public Private Partnership where funding has been secured totally from the revenue generated from the tolls and the first UK vehicle tunnel to have an active fire suppression system.
It won a prestigious special Robert Stephenson Award at the Northern ICE Awards in April 2012.
Paul Fenwick, Project Director of TWITA, said: “It was a great honour to welcome Her Majesty and His Royal Highness to officially open the second Tyne Tunnel. Both tunnels have been operational for a few months now and the positive difference the increase in capacity has made to commuters and to businesses has been phenomenal – a just reward for all the hard work by so many people over many years.”
TT2 Limited is the Concessionaire appointed by the TWITA to deliver the project, and to operate the Tyne Tunnels under a thirty year concession under a Public-Private Partnership.
TT2 appointed global tunnelling experts Bouygues Travaux Publics to carry out the design and build aspects of the New Tyne Crossing project.
The project was delivered in partnership with North and South Tyneside Councils.