Tunnel Refurbishment

The Tyne Tunnel will begin a major transformation next week, (from Monday 11th October) as refurbishment of the 1967-built vehicle tunnel commences with the removal of the tunnel’s wall panels.

Under the New Tyne Crossing project the Tyne Tunnel will be completely transformed by main design and build contractor Bouygues Travaux Publics.

Once the new vehicle tunnel opens to traffic, in February 2011, the original tunnel will close for up to ten months as works take place to reconstruct the interior of the tunnel, creating a separate emergency escape passage.

The works will see the Tyne Tunnels become the safest road tunnels in the UK.

Nicolas Caille, Project Managing Director for Bouygues Travaux Publics UK, said: “Almost all the attention so far has been on building the new Tyne Tunnel and I’ve been extremely pleased with the progress we’ve made there.

“As we’re getting close to opening the new tunnel, we can now start paying attention to the old vehicle tunnel which will be radically changed by the works that are going to take place. It’s exciting to start peeling back the panels to get a good look at the structure of this 43-year-old crossing.”

The refurbishment works will take place between 9.00pm and 5.00am every weekday night from Monday 11th October 2010 until the end of the year.

The Tyne Tunnel will remain OPEN throughout, with traffic management systems in place to escort traffic past the sections of tunnel that are being worked on. The works will require short sections of single lane closures within the tunnel, and as a result there may be delays to journey times overnight.

Trevor Jackson, Managing Director for TT2, the Tyne Tunnel Concessionaire, said: “The refurbishment of the original vehicle tunnel is a crucial part of the New Tyne Crossing project. I’m sure that motorists who use the Tyne Tunnel on a regular basis will be fascinated to see what lies behind these panels.

“People travelling through the tunnel at night will have a unique chance to get a close up look at the work in action. We hope this won’t become too much of a distraction though and will do our best to keep traffic moving. I’d like to thank our customers in advance for their patience.”

The refurbishment of the original vehicle tunnel involves realigning the traffic lanes in order to enable a separate escape passage to be built into the tunnel. A fixed fire suppression system will also be installed which will make the tunnel one of the safest in Europe. The system has already been fitted into the new vehicle tunnel, making it the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

Paul Fenwick, Project Director for the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, the promoter of the scheme, said: “This represents another exciting development for the project. The works will give motorists an indication of what is to come for the existing Tyne Tunnel and signifies the final stages in the construction process.”