Adele Bradley
By Adele Bradley

Senior Staff Writer

12 December 2022

| | 3 min read


Scale of the refurbishment required for the Tyne Bridge revealed

The level of deterioration and extent of restoration works required for one of the region’s most iconic landmarks have been revealed in a new report, with council chiefs vowing to restore it to its former glory.

Image showing the Tyne Bridge which the councils are committed to ensuring that the Tyne Bridge works are completed in full.
The councils are committed to ensuring that the Tyne Bridge works are completed in full.

With the Tyne Bridge showing visible signs of deterioration since its last maintenance works, the councils have lobbied government to secure the funding to the iconic structure so they can complete a full refurbishment programme.

Detailed inspection work which took place over the summer, has revealed more damage than originally anticipated with corrosion of the steel work caused by peeling paintwork, damaged deck joints, leaking drains and damage to the road surface and pavements on the Grade II* listed structure.

Despite rising construction costs, inflation and the additional work and extended length of the programme, the councils are committed to ensuring that the Tyne Bridge works are completed in full.

Within the £41.4 million of funding confirmed by government for the works to the bridge alongside the central motorway, around £20.7 million was earmarked for the Tyne Bridge refurbishment works. The councils have committed to re-allocating some of the spend within the agreed funding package to ensure the Tyne Bridge work is prioritised. This may mean reprofiling the central motorway works which engineers are currently scoping out. These costs are being finalised and will be explored further with members and the councils’ partners, ahead of the final business case being submitted to the Department for Transport.

Cllr Jane Byrne, cabinet member for a connected, clean city, said: “The Tyne Bridge is an iconic symbol of the North East and we remain committed to restoring it to its former glory and preserving it for future generations.

“As this report sets out, this is a very challenging and complex project, having to balance rising costs with the full extent of the refurbishment works required. We will be working closely with partners to finalise the costings, programming and mitigation measures to reduce congestion on the main gateway in and out of the city.

“There is more work to be done on this ahead of finalising costings and programming and I look forward to working with partners to see this iconic structure fully restored and shining proudly in the Newcastle skyline once again.”

Councillor John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: “This is a vital project for the North East, to bring this iconic structure back up to the standard we all expect.

“We will support our partners in Newcastle and collaborate closely to put plans in place to manage the transport network while these works are being completed. It will be a proud day when the Tyne Bridge is restored and we can all celebrate its centenary.”

Also in the report, engineers have set out a provisional programme of works which will focus on the most critical repairs first, which alongside the more extensive repairs identified and increasing constraints due to nesting kittiwake numbers, has impacted on the phasing of the programme and extended the programme of works to potentially last up to  four years.

The provisional programme, which is expected to be given the go-ahead next summer, could see traffic restrictions in place from Autumn 2023 and continue throughout the duration of the four-year programme. However, these dates are provisional at this stage and will be confirmed once final costings have been submitted to government.

In order to carry the work out safely and to protect the workforce, lane closures will be required, which will see the Tyne Bridge reduced to one lane in each direction for the majority of the programme.

As the Tyne Bridge is used by 70,000 vehicles a day, this would see capacity greatly reduced on a major cross river route between Newcastle and Gateshead. The councils have already begun looking at a number of mitigation measures, including promoting alternative routes and improving public transport links to ease disruption.

They will also be working with business representatives and public sector partners over the coming months and will publish updates as they develop a more detailed plan.

The £41.4 million funding bid for the Tyne Bridge, together with refurbishment works to central motorway, was submitted in 2019 and confirmed by the Department for Transport this summer. The last major maintenance works to the Tyne Bridge were in 2001, so this work is well overdue.

Engineers are finalising detailed project plans and costings which will be completed in the coming months, following further discussions between the councils and their partners. The final costings need to be submitted to the Department for Transport, ahead of funding being released, which is expected this summer.

The full programme includes steelwork repairs, full grit blasting and re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.

All aspects of the programme are being developed in consultation with wildlife groups to minimise the works around the towers on the bridge and other nesting sites during the six-month kittiwake breeding season, with nesting provision maintained throughout the works to minimise disruption to this protected species.

Once funding is released, contractor Esh Construction will carry out the refurbishment work to the iconic regional landmark, subject to approval from the two councils.

The report will be discussed at the Joint Bridges Committee which meets on 19 December.