ICE on the crossing the Tyne
Today the Queen is in the North East to cut the ribbon on Tyne Tunnel 2. Stephen Larkin, Regional Director, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) North East, shares his views on the Tunnel, and the future infrastructure provision surrounding it.
The opening of the New Tyne Crossing has been a major landmark in the process of improving traffic flow on one of the region’s most congested highway routes.
Now that we have had time to assess the impact of both tunnels being fully operational, we have seen massive improvements in journey times for those who use the crossing, whether as part of their daily commute, for business, pleasure or to transport freight.
The project has effectively opened up a route which, while never closed, was seen by many as an obstacle to be overcome, due to the delays caused by queuing traffic.
Indeed, journey times have been so significantly reduced that travellers using the tunnels have found themselves with an extra hour or even two to spend doing things other than sitting in queues of traffic.
There are many stories of people “getting their lives back”, being able to sit down to dinner with family, or use their reclaimed evenings for charity work. These stories show the human side of what the opening of the two bores has done for the region. This presents a very positive image of civil engineering and demonstrates how important investment in such major infrastructure can be both for the benefit of the North East as a whole and the private individuals that make use of such facilities.
For business, it means less time is wasted in travel, freight is moved more freely and, overall, journey times are reduced whenever business is being conducted across the River Tyne.
Whilst it is fantastic that both tunnels are now open, we still have concerns on capacity issues. The addition of the New Tyne Crossing to our roads network can only be 100% effective when the junctions North and South of the tunnels are properly upgraded. An interim scheme at the Silverlink junction, north of the Tyne, has improved traffic flow there temporarily but the recent government announcement bringing forward a major improvement, whilst welcome, can’t come soon enough. Plans for grade separation of Testos roundabout to the south are, however, unlikely to materialise until after 2015 at the earliest.
The sooner this vital work can be carried out the more likely we are to optimise traffic flow along this important trunk road, which, with two tunnels in operation, is already showing its ability to give a real boost to both regional and national economies.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Stephen Larkin .