Council backs £4m of major repairs to High Level Bridge to keep it 'safe and reliable'

The High Level Bridge will get £4m worth of repairs to keep it 'safe and reliable'. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A busy Newcastle bridge is set to undergo a major restoration after neighbouring councils gave it the green light.

The High Level Bridge will get £4m worth of repairs to keep it 'safe and reliable'

The Grade I listed crossing is earmarked for substantial repairs to fix its fractured ironwork and peeling paint.

Council chiefs in both Newcastle and Gateshead have given their consent for Network Rail to press ahead with the work, which is due to start this summer and expected to finish next spring.

It will mean that the High Level Bridge could be undergoing a substantial revamp at the same time as the Tyne Bridge, which has its own long-awaited renovations due to begin later this year.

Rail chiefs have promised to keep disruption caused by the works to a minimum, with the road open during the daytime and access to the bridge's cycling and walking paths maintained throughout.

Jake Walton, senior asset engineer for Network Rail, said: "We are undertaking major refurbishment works to High Level Bridge, which will make sure that it stays safe and reliable well into the future.

"We're investing around £4m in the project, helping us sustainably manage this iconic 170-year-old structure, which is a symbol of history and a marvellous feat of engineering in the North East. We will begin work in summer and this will run through to Spring 2024."

"We've worked closely with Gateshead Council and Newcastle City Council to minimise disruption and whilst the road will be closed at night, vehicles will still be able to use the bridge as normal during the day. Passengers can stay on the move as services won't be impacted, whilst cyclists and pedestrians will still be able to cross the bridge at all times."

The last big repairs on the High Level Bridge were carried out between 2001 and 2008, which was a massive and complex £42m project to strengthen and restore the historic structure.

But recent assessments have found that some areas of the bridge have since suffered from decay and are in need of improvement once again.

It has also been the subject of complaints over graffiti and broken lighting over recent years.

The High Level Bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson as part of the creation of a continuous railway line from London to Edinburgh, was the first in the world to combine road and rail traffic when it opened in 1849.

Gateshead Council said that the latest repair works would support the "future longevity of the structure, as well as improve public safety".

Newcastle City Council planners added: "Whilst there will be some minor visible alterations to the bridge structure as a result of the repairs, it is considered that the harm (less than substantial) is outweighed by the public benefit in this case, both in terms of the ongoing preservation of the Grade I listed heritage asset and enabling its continued use for trains and other vehicles."

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