Tyne Tunnel
The Tyne Tunnel is a two-lane toll vehicular tunnel under the River Tyne in North East England. Completed in 1967, it connects the town of Jarrow on the south bank of the river with North Shields and Howdon on the north. The tunnel is one of three forming the Tyne Tunnel project; the others are the pedestrian and cyclist tunnels opened in 1951. The tunnels are 11 km (7 mi) downstream and to the east of Newcastle upon Tyne. The road tunnel is part of the A19 road.

The Tyne Tunnel project
A scheme for the construction of a set of three tunnels under the Tyne was put forward by the Durham and Northumberland County Councils in 1937 . After prolonged negotiations with the Ministry of Transport the scheme was approved in 1943. The Tyne Tunnel Act - the legislative instrument necessary to enable the construction of the tunnels - received Royal Assent in 1946. Post war restrictions on capital expenditure delayed the construction of the vehicular tunnel, but work started on the smaller tunnels for pedestrians and cyclists in 1947.

Tyne Cyclist and Pedestrian Tunnels
Tyne Cyclist and Pedestrian Tunnel runs under the River Tyne between Howdon and Jarrow, and was opened in 1951. It actually consists of two tunnels running in parallel, one for pedestrian use with a 10 ft 6 in (3.2 m) diameter, and a larger 12 ft (3.7 m) diameter tunnel for pedal cyclists. Both tunnels are 900 ft (270 m) in length, and lie 40 ft (12.2 m) below the river bed. The tunnels are Grade II listed buildings. At each end, the tunnels are connected to surface buildings by two escalators and a lift. The Waygood- Otis escalators have 306 wooden steps each, and are the original models from 1951. At the time of construction, they were the highest single-rise escalators in the world, with a vertical rise of 85 ft (26 m) and a length of 200 ft (61 m). (In 1992 escalators with a higher vertical rise of 90 ft (27.4 m) and 197 ft (60 m) in length were constructed at Angel station on the London Underground.) The Tyne Tunnel escalators remain the longest wooden escalators in the world. In 2005 The SoundEx filmed a music video to their song Street Freak in the tunnel. The band were able to close the cyclist tunnel off for two days and use it free of charge to bring the tunnel publicity.

First Tyne Vehicle tunnel
The vehicle tunnel is 5,500 ft (1.68 km) long and has a diameter of 31 ft 3 in (9.5 m) with a roadbed 24 ft (7.3 m). It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 19 October 1967, but commenced operational use only in 1968, on completion of the northern link roads. It was designed to handle 25,000 vehicles per day. The original toll for cars was 2 s 6 d (12.5p). As of May 2008 , the toll charge for cars is £1.20. Motorcycles are charged 20p, whilst lorries and buses are charged £1.50. A 10% discount is available to Tyne Tunnel permit holders. The permits are passive electronic discs stuck to the inside of the vehicles windscreen and is electronically read by the toll booth's scanner, whereupon the toll is debited from the permit holders account. An agreement between TWPTA and Go North East has been made so now, the Cross Tyne bus services, 59 and 59A, no longer have to pay a toll to use the tunnel. This means more savings for passengers as ticket prices are to be reduced.

Second Tyne Vehicle Tunnel
Current use of the tunnel is 34,000 vehicles per day and forecast to rise to 43,000 per day by 2021. As of March 2004 the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority is leading a scheme to build a second, £139 million tunnel. The tunnel is slightly to the east of the existing tunnel, and the pair would allow each tunnel to serve two lanes of traffic each travelling in the same direction; the current tunnel has two single lanes of traffic in opposing directions, representing an avoidable risk. The UK Government gave the go-ahead for the scheme in July 2005. Construction work started in Spring 2008, and will last three and a half years to four years and be open to traffic by 2011. The present timeline for the new Tyne Tunnel is as follows:
  • Transfer Tunnels and Staff to Concessionaire: 1 February 2008
  • Main work starts: spring 2008
  • New tunnel opens: Autumn 2010
  • Existing tunnel closes for refurbishment: Autumn 2010
  • Both existing and new tunnel fully operational: Winter 2011
The tunnel will be constructed under a Private Finance Initiative 30 year design build finance operate contract. The toll will rise to between £1.30 and £1.50 at today’s prices by the time the new tunnel opens. The construction company building the new tunnel is Bouygues Construction, who have subcontracted Southbay Civils. The new tunnel is being built using the cut-and-cover method. By beginning of November 2009, the land approaches to the tunnel had been excavated, and construction of the tunnel, in four 90-metre long sections, had been completed nearby. The dredger to be used to excavate the river section of the tunnel cutting arrived on site on 4 November 2009. The dredger was to excavate 400,000 cubic metres of sediment, which would be used to infill the defunct Tyne Dock, reclaiming 13 acres of land for use by Port of Tyne. Both ends of the tunnel finally met on 26th May, 2010.

Building Activity

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