Work on refurbishing the historic Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels has been delayed while contractors remove asbestos from the ceiling voids in the rotunda buildings.
The £4.9m refurbishment work was started in May but the delay means the tunnels are now not expected to re-open until August next year.
Paul Fenwick, project director for the tunnels’ owners, the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority, said: “We were aware of the existence of asbestos and were originally advised that it would be possible to work around it.
“However, our main contractor for the refurbishment works, GB Building Solutions, was concerned that the works themselves and the need to manoeuvre equipment and materials in such a confined space could damage the ceiling and disturb the asbestos.
“I have agreed that the removal of the asbestos by specialist contractors is the best way forward. Unfortunately this will mean a delay to the reopening of the tunnels.
“In the meantime, our free, timetabled replacement shuttle bus service which operates seven days a week between 6am and 8pm will continue to operate until the tunnels re-open.”