24 July 2023| | 3 min read
Region united in support for the Tyne Bridge restoration works
Leaders from across the North East have come together to show their support for the restoration works to the iconic Tyne Bridge.
With the major works to get underway this September, political leaders and MPs, along with key business and transport organisations, have united to show their support to see this much-loved icon returned to its former glory.
A cross-party letter of support, signed by 23 of the region’s main political figures, has been sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper MP.
Further letters in support of the major restoration plans have also been submitted to the Department for Transport by representatives of the region’s business and transport sectors.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “It’s fantastic to see the whole region coming together to show their support for the restoration of our much-loved Tyne Bridge.
“The Tyne Bridge is seen as a symbol of home for Geordies all over the world and we’re very passionate at about preserving this iconic structure for future generations and seeing it shining proudly in our skyline once again, ahead of its centenary in 2028.
“We have set out the programme of works to begin this September, with the disruptive elements of the refurbishment to start in 2024. This is to give residents and businesses certainty of when the works will start, so they can plan ahead and make alternative travel arrangements, where possible, while we carry out this restoration of an icon.”
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “The Tyne Bridge is such an important landmark for the whole of the North East and I think everyone in the region understands the importance of seeing this iconic structure restored.
“We all need to pull together to keep the transport network moving while these vital works are completed. It will be a really proud day when the project is complete and we can all enjoy seeing the bridge returned to its best.”
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central said: “The Tyne Bridge is an icon of the North East and its importance is demonstrated by the way in which MPs from across the region, and from different parties, have come together to support its restoration.”
As well as the letter of support from political leaders, leading organisations in the city have also got behind the councils’ restoration programme, including the Chamber of Commerce, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, NE1 and Newcastle United Football Club.
John McCabe, North East England Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive, said: “As one of the region’s most iconic landmarks, it is essential that the Tyne Bridge is restored so that it can continue to be a key site for both locals and visitors to the North East.
“The Grade II listed structure provides an important link between Newcastle and Gateshead and is used by 70,000 vehicles every day.
“It’s good to see businesses working together to make this vital restoration happen to ensure we can all look forward to celebrating the bridge’s centenary in 2028.”
Major transport authorities have also got behind the scheme including Transport for the North, Transport North East, Nexus and bus operators.
It is over 20 years since the Tyne Bridge was last refurbished and the Tyne Bridge is showing visible signs of deterioration. With detailed inspection works revealing more extensive repairs than first anticipated, it is estimated that the major refurbishment programme could last up to four years.
The £41.4m funding package for the Tyne Bridge and upgrades to central motorway was confirmed last summer by government.
With the kittiwakes having departed from the Tyne Bridge, the first phase of works will see scaffolding erected to provide nesting space for when the kittiwakes return for the breeding season next year. All elements of the works are carefully programmed to minimise disruption to this protected species.
The more disruptive element to the work will begin next year when lane closures will be required in each direction on the Tyne Bridge for a significant part of the restoration programme. This will have a major impact on the travelling public and the councils are looking at a number of ways to reduce disruption. This includes helping people plan their journeys, including promoting alternative routes and improving public transport links.
The programme of works beginning in 2024 includes steelwork repairs, grit blasting and re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.
These works will maintain the load capacity of the structure and future proof the route by alleviating the need for continual ad-hoc improvement works.
Works to the central motorway will also get underway in 2024, with the start dates of the works still to be confirmed and is expected to last for up to two years.
Local contractor Esh Construction will carry out the Tyne Bridge works on behalf of the councils.