Tyne & Wear

Pedestrian Tyne Tunnel opening delayed once more

The tunnel entrances
Image caption A series of issues means the opening is four years behind schedule

The reopening of a crossing beneath the River Tyne has suffered yet another delay.

The Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel had been expected to welcome walkers and riders once again from this month.

But project chiefs say it will be next month at the earliest following issues with the lifts.

Work started in May 2013 and was intended to be finished by 2015, but it has been dogged by problems including asbestos and contractors going bust.

The tunnel connects Jarrow and Howdon.

Costs have ballooned from an original budget of about £6.9m to an expected final total of £15.65m, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Total sympathy'

The North East Joint Transport Committee (JTC), which is overseeing the scheme, said: "The refurbishment works are complete but we have the final commissioning and testing of the new glass-inclined lift which we need to conclude before we can confirm the opening date, but this will be within the next couple of weeks.

"This has been a major project using specialist contractors to restore the old dilapidated tunnels to their former glory and we're looking forward to it being brought back into public use."

The original crossing opened in 1951 after taking four years to build at a cost of £833,000.

South Tyneside councillor Alan Smith, who represents Jarrow's Fellgate and Hedworth ward and who sits on the JTC's overview and scrutiny committee, said he hoped the previously "well used" tunnels would be back in action soon.

He added: "There's a lot happening and I've got total sympathy for the people doing it, but I also feel frustration that it should have been done about 12 months ago."

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