Tyne Bridge set for long-awaited £41m restoration

More than £35 million of funding for the restoration of the Tyne Bridge has finally been signed off by the UK government.

The Department for Transport confirmed it will provide £35.2 million towards the total £41.4 million costs of restoring the Tyne Bridge and making improvements on the Central Motorway in Newcastle.

The remainder of the funding will be provided by Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council.

UK ministers confirmed on Friday morning that the Department for Transport (DfT) will pay for the repairs —  confirming the money to fulfil a pledge that was originally made in summer 2022.

“Council leaders having warned repeatedly that the huge refurbishment project must begin urgently if the Tyne Bridge is to be returned to its former glory in time for its 100th anniversary in October 2028,” said Newcastle City Council.

“Engineers from main contractor Esh Construction now have certainty to set a timetable for starting work on the main phase of the bridge’s restoration.

“The full programme includes steelwork repairs, full grit blasting and re-painting, concrete repairs, drainage improvements, stonework and masonry repairs, bridge deck waterproofing and resurfacing, parapet protection and bridge joint replacement.

“The scheme will require lane restrictions to keep the workforce and public safe for the majority of the programme.”

Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp said: “The Tyne Bridge is the defining symbol of the North East 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.

“While we welcome the news that this funding is now in place, we have had to campaign hard for the funding to be released.

“Council officers have worked incredibly hard to ensure the full business case for the project was submitted in a timely manner.

“I thank them personally for their commitment.

“It has been very disappointing to see the Government suggest that the delays in this funding being released was a result of delays in paperwork being submitted by the authority.

“That is simply not the case.

“However, we can now push on with our plans to see it fully restored in time for its centenary, which the people of our region expect and deserve.”

Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon 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.”

Some initial work on the bridge’s repairs began in September, funded by the two councils, but the main phase of the project has been dependent on the UK government providing its majority share of the cash.

The two councils have warned that any delay to the engineering works could mean that costs will increase, the project will not be completed in time for the bridge’s centenary.

The councils said they await further confirmation of the outstanding £6 million which was pledged as part of the Network North announcement in October, where the UK government would commit the full £41.4 million.

UK government Roads Minister Guy Opperman said: “Today is a historic day for Newcastle and the North East.

“Our £35 million boost will restore the Tyne Bridge in all its glory so that it can shine proudly as one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks.

“This is part of the government’s Network North plan which will improve local transport across the North East, with today’s announcement following our record £544 million in funding for a long-term plan to resurface local roads across the North East.”

A Grade II-listed structure, the Tyne Bridge is a defining landmark of the North East of England.

Designed by the same team as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it was the world’s longest-span bridge at the time of its construction in 1928, and over 70,000 drivers now use the bridge every day to get in and out of Newcastle.

The last major maintenance work to the bridge was carried out in 2001 while the A167 has not received significant maintenance since it opened in 1975.