4 December 2023| | 3 min read
Tyne Bridge restoration work to step up in 2024
The next stage of restoration works to a North East landmark are set to get underway in early 2024, as refurbishment works move on to the main bridge deck of the Tyne Bridge.
£32 million is being invested in the iconic structure to see it returned to its former glory. With the Tyne Bridge showing visible signs of deterioration, these vital works are needed to preserve the heritage of the bridge, ahead of its centenary in 2028.
In early 2024, engineers will start work on the main structural repairs of the Gateshead side of the bridge, next to the tower. People are being warned that major travel disruption is expected at this stage of the four-year ambitious programme.
Capacity will be halved on the Tyne bridge, a route which can be used by up to 70,000 vehicles a day, when lane closures are required for this stage of works.
Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council are advising people to plan ahead and make the switch to public transport where possible when the main bridge deck works get underway. The start date for this next stage is subject to government releasing the £41.4m funds for both the Tyne Bridge and central motorway schemes, which was confirmed in summer 2022.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council said: “The Tyne Bridge is not only a defining symbol of the North East, it is also a major gateway to the city and plays a key role on our strategic highways network.
“With these vital works taking place to restore our much-loved bridge to its former glory, it is important that people realise the impact this will have on the travelling public.
“While we have put mitigation measures in place, to help keep the city moving during the restoration period, we are giving people advance notice that there will be disruption. Please plan ahead, follow the travel advice, and make the switch to public transport or walking and cycling where possible, as we carry out this hugely important refurbishment.”
Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: “We’re going to need everyone in the region who loves the bridge to do their bit to help us minimise the disruption that the restoration will cause to the transport network.
“I’m confident it will be worth the wait - it will be a proud day for everyone in the North East when our Tyne Bridge is restored to its former glory.”
With the bridge reduced to one lane in each direction to protect the workforce and the public during the main bridge deck restoration, heavy congestion is expected on all approaches to the Tyne Bridge on both Newcastle and Gateshead sides.
The Quayside is also expected to be busy as people seek to use the Swing Bridge.
The public are strongly advised to use public transport where possible when travelling to and from the city centre. Both councils acknowledge that this may be challenging if industrial action by transport operators continue into 2024, however the works to the Tyne Bridge are urgently required and lane closures are unavoidable during the main phase of refurbishment.
Walking and cycling routes around the bridge are being improved where possible to encourage more people to walk and cycle.
Newcastle City Council is providing additional safe and secure cycle storage in its city centre.
People should also consider Park and Ride sites, which can reduce congestion and help people get into the centres of Newcastle and Gateshead quicker.
People travelling across the region are advised to avoid travel through the centre of Newcastle and Gateshead and stay on the major trunk roads and use other cross river crossings such as the A1, A19, Tyne Tunnel and Scotswood Bridge.
The Redheugh Bridge will still be available for cars, but this is also expected to be heavily congested and is also subject to weather-related closures, particularly for high-sided vehicles in high winds.
People who need to drive into the city are advised to consider car sharing, travelling at off-peak times when the roads are quieter, as well as leaving more time for their journey and to expect delays.
Large employers are also asked to consider staggering start and finish times to avoid peak travel times and encouraging working from home.
A number of junctions and bus routes are being improved to smooth traffic flow and prioritise buses in advance of the disruptive elements of work. This includes upgraded traffic signals connected to the traffic management system that covers Newcastle and Gateshead. This will allow for better coordination between key junction to help keep traffic flowing on key routes between the centres of Newcastle and Gateshead, including the Quayside corridor.
Improvements for bus services include the junction of Collingwood and Mosley Street, which is part of a key bus and taxi route leading to the High Level Bridge and new yellow boxes installed on the Quayside to improve bus access on key routes.
Nexus operate a number of Park and Ride sites, including five in and around Newcastle at Regents Centre, Bank Foot, Kingston Park, Callerton and Four Lane Ends, offering over 1,000 spaces, with easy access to bus and Metro links coming into the city centre.
In Gateshead, work is ongoing to better utilise the existing Heworth Interchange long stay car park for Park and Ride, and to establish a new, free Park and Ride car park close to the Metrocentre and the A1 in the west of Gateshead, to enable people to switch to local trains or bus services.
Restoration works to the Tyne Bridge got underway in September. This first phase of the £32 million programme involves erecting scaffolding below the bridge deck around the Gateshead tower, which is having minimal impact on the travelling public.
Passers-by will see a notable change around the Gateshead tower of the bridge as the construction team makes progress with the installation of scaffolding below the bridge deck. The first phase of work got underway following the Great North Run and the departure of the kittiwakes for the year.
The scaffold adjacent to the Gateshead tower and above ‘By the River Brew’ will provide access for grit blasting, repairs and painting to the underside of the bridge deck. Grit blasting is required to remove the existing paint and allow steelwork repairs to be undertaken before the surface can be re-painted.
Work to install the first phase of scaffold is heading towards the halfway point and on completion will be fully sheeted to protect the surrounding environment during the project.
The most disruptive element of the works is set to get underway in early 2024, when lane restrictions will be required for the majority of the programme, reducing the Tyne Bridge to one lane in each direction.
This 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 capacity of the bridge for the long term and future proof the route by alleviating the need for continual ad-hoc maintenance works.
Local contractor Esh Construction will carry out the Tyne Bridge works on behalf of the councils.
Keep up to date at www.tynebridge.org
A more detailed programme will be set out in due course once funding is in place.
Full travel advice is below
From early 2024, lane closures on the bridge will be required which are expected to cause significant disruption during the main bridge works.
Heavy congestion is expected on the Quayside route, Swing Bridge and routes to and from Redheugh Bridge and all approaches to the Tyne Bridge from both Newcastle and Gateshead sides.
Please plan ahead, allow more time for your journey and expect delays.
Public transport is strongly advised when travelling to and from Newcastle city centre and Gateshead town centre, whether or not you now drive over the Tyne.
For those travelling across the region it is recommended that the trunk roads and other river crossing options outside the central area are utilised, such as the A1, A19, Tyne Tunnel and Scotswood Bridge.
Public transport is strongly recommended when travelling to and from Newcastle city centre, Gateshead town centre and the quayside area.
Working with bus operators, a number of routes used by buses at key junctions have been improved to prioritise buses on the network to help bus services keep to schedule.
The most you will pay for a single bus journey is £2, with prices frozen through Government subsidy until December 2024.
Everyone aged 21 and under can travel by bus for £1 or less - or buy a £3 unlimited day ticket which also includes Metro and the Shields Ferry.
For adults a £6 Day Rover gets you unlimited travel on all bus, Metro and Ferry in Tyne and Wear, including Northern Rail between Sunderland, Newcastle, Metrocentre and Blaydon. A £6.80 Rover lets you extend travel across Northumberland and Durham as well.
For just £6.80 you can travel all day across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and County Durham on any bus, the Metro, Shields Ferry, and the Northern Rail services between Blaydon and Sunderland.
All these fares are available from the bus driver as you board.
Metro fares start from £1.65 single and £2.75 all day with Pop Pay As You Go on Google Pay or smart card. You can find out more here.
Metro also offers great value season tickets through deals with major employers – find out more here or get in touch to set up a scheme at your workplace.
Park and Ride
Metro’s Park-and-Ride facilities make using the system easy if you don’t live within walking distance of a station. There are major car parks at 10 suburban stations letting you switch easily from car to Metro. There's free parking on Sundays at the following Metro station car parks: Callerton Parkway, Bank Foot, Regent Centre, Four Lane Ends, Northumberland Park, Hebburn, Stadium of Light and also at Kingston Park.
Help to plan your journey on all public transport is available at https://www.nexus.org.uk/jplanner.
One footway will be available at all times throughout the Tyne Bridge works. Signage will be improved to help people accessing the area on foot and on bikes, to link up with other walking and cycling routes in the city.
Secure cycle storage is available at Eldon Garden MSCP, with facilities also in development at Dean Street and Grainger Town MSCP.
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