Drivers face heavy congestion as Tyne Bridge repairs require 'unavoidable' lane closures

A four-year programme to restore the Tyne Bridge to its former glory started in September. Credit: NCJ Media

Drivers on Tyneside will face heavy congestion from early 2024 as the next stage of a major repair programme to the Tyne Bridge requires "unavoidable" lane closures.

Restoration work costing £32 million is moving to the main bridge deck, with engineers due to start on the main structural repairs of the Gateshead side of the bridge, next to the tower.

Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council are warning motorists that the scheme will cause major travel disruption, with heavy congestion expected, as road capacity will halve - meaning the four lanes will be down to two.

The dual carriageway can be used by up to 70,000 vehicles a day.

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."

Scaffolding was put up around the Gateshead tower as part of the first stage of repair works. Credit: Andrew Heptinstall Photography

The authorities are urging people to plan ahead and switch to public transport where possible.

The exact 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.

What is the advice and what are the alternatives?

  • 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.

  • Walking and cycling routes around the bridge are being improved, with Newcastle City Council providing additional safe and secure cycle storage in its city centre, while people are asked to consider Park and Ride sites.

  • Those travelling across the region are advised to avoid going through the centres of Newcastle and Gateshead and stay on the major trunk roads and use other 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.

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."

Restoration got underway in September with the first phase of the programme involving putting up scaffolding below the bridge deck around the Gateshead tower.

The next phase 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 are designed to 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.

Work is hoped to be completed in time for the bridge's centenary in 2028.

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