The Northbound Tyne Tunnel is to be closed on 36 weekends for scheduled maintenance to ensure the longevity of the tunnels for generations to come.

To cause minimum disruption to users during its busiest times, both tunnels will remain open, as usual, from Monday to Friday.

On the weekends when maintenance is being carried out on the Northbound tunnel, drivers will cross the river using the Southbound tunnel which will act as bi-directional - a single lane carrying traffic north, and a single lane going south.

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The maintenance will begin on May 3 for one weekend of initial works, then recommence on June  7 and end on March 3 next year 2025 - with the exception of the Great North Run weekend and the three weekends across the festive period when the tunnels will remain fully open.

Closures will begin at 8pm on the Friday of each scheduled weekend with normal operation resuming on the following Monday at 6am.

The operator of the tunnels, TT2, was appointed by the local authorities that own the infrastructure to manage the toll road in 2007, during the construction of the second tunnel, and the refurbishment of the first.

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This management contract is now halfway through its 30-year term and, as with all major infrastructure projects, significant periodic maintenance is required.

This is an agreed programme of works in readiness for the tunnels to be handed back to the local authorities in 2037.

The Northern Echo: Chief Executive Officer at TT2 Adrian Wallace, said: “We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused by what is essential maintenance that will ensure that the tunnels continue to serve our region safely and efficiently for many years to come.

“The programme of maintenance has been phased as a series of weekend closures, intended to minimise disruption to travelling public when other similar scale works are being undertaken across the region.

“Weekday customers should not see any impact on travel times but traffic may be heavier than usual when travelling at peak times on Saturdays and Sundays.

“We are investing heavily in a major communications campaign to let people know about the partial closure periods in advance and help minimise disruption throughout.”