Ministers have today confirmed that the Department for Transport (DfT) will pay for the repairs to Tyne Bridge.
Esh Construction was appointed by Newcastle and Gateshead councils back in June 2022 to carry out the £41.4m programme of repairs, but the project was always contingent on a promised government contribution of £35.2m. It has taken until today for that money to be finally released, after months of rising uncertainty about whether the project would ever actually be able to go ahead.
Some initial works on the bridge’s repairs began in September, funded by the two councils, but the main phase of the project could not proceed without the government providing its majority share of the cash.
With everything now sorted, Esh Construction’s team can now mobilise to start work on the main phase of the bridge’s restoration.
Councillor Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: “We’re so glad to have this vital funding confirmed. The Tyne Bridge is incredibly important to us all, symbolic of our strength and resilience, and recognised around the world.
“When restoration work begins in earnest, we are 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.
“I’m confident the results of the programme will be worth the wait – it will be a proud day for everyone when our Tyne Bridge is restored to its rightful place as a shining icon of the region.”
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp said: “The Tyne Bridge is the defining symbol of the northeast which everyone in the region is incredibly proud of. As custodians of the Tyne Bridge, we’ve campaigned passionately and loudly on behalf of the people of our region to see this icon returned to its former glory.”
Roads minister Guy Opperman described the funding announcement as “an historic day.”
The two councils had warned that any delay to the engineering works could mean that costs would increase, the project would not be completed in time for the bridge’s centenary, and that another Great North Run and nesting season for the Quayside’s kittiwakes would be disrupted.
The work will include steelwork repairs, full re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.
Nesting provision for kittiwakes has to be maintained throughout the works to minimise disruption to this protected species. The Tyne Bridge is home to more than 1,000 pairs of kittiwakes, the furthest inland breeding colony of kittiwakes in the world, it is said.
Dubbed kittiwake hotels, nesting ledges will be built onto scaffold towers, which the kittiwakes can use when they return for the breeding season next year.