Tyne Bridge overnight closures begin as engineers carry out structural surveys
Weeks of overnight closures of Newcastle’s historic Tyne Bridge begin today as engineers carry out comprehensive structural surveys to assess renovation needs.
Tyne Bridge will be closed every evening between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from today, June 13, until July 1. These inspections are a pre-requisite for the council to access the £35.3m funding for the bridge refurbishment pledged by the Department for Transport (DfT) earlier this month.
The grade II listed bridge over the River Tyne has not been maintained for over two decades, despite the paint used only having an expected lifespan of 15-20 years. Local councilors have appealed to the government for funds to save it from its “appalling state” as light spots of rust and peeling paint have become common.
Transport for the North and Newcastle City Council submitted a joint funding bid to the DfT in 2019, but it remained in stasis until June 2022 when the DfT approved a £35m grant for the renovation of the bridge and the central highway. A total of around £41.4million will be needed for the whole scheme, with Newcastle and Gateshead councils expected to make up the shortfall.
In December 2021, Newcastle Council’s principal engineer, Alastair Swan, told the Newcastle Gateshead Joint Bridge Committee that he had “no immediate concerns” about the integrity of the bridge, but the comprehensive inspections afforded by nighttime closures will provide a more detailed overview of the state of the structure.
All is well, renovation and maintenance should start later this year and last about two years. This package of work will include a full repaint, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, masonry and masonry repairs, waterproofing and resurfacing of the bridge deck, parapet protection and replacement of bridge joints. These works will maintain the structures’ carrying capacity and ensure the longevity of the route by reducing the need for ongoing ad hoc maintenance works.
As there is a population of kittiwakes living on the bridge, work will be carefully managed in consultation with wildlife groups to ensure that work on the main towers takes place outside of the breeding season and with provisions for nesting provided throughout the work.
Work on the Central Motorway is scheduled to start in 2023 and last until 2026. This will entail improvements along the route to the Tyne Bridge, including resurfacing and waterproofing of the viaduct and bridges, concrete repairs and drainage and new traffic lights and signals.
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “As part of the funding process, we are required to carry out some initial work on the Tyne Bridge.
“This includes a full inspection of the bridge, so that we can assess its condition and the extent of work needed to finalize project costs and plans to fully restore and renovate this major structure.
“As we need to inspect the full span of the bridge, nighttime closures will be required on the bridge and the roads below, so engineers can safely complete this work.”
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