A major programme of work is underway to secure the long term future of the South Shields ferry landing.
The work involves the refurbishment of the bearings on the South Shields landing’s 50 metre long Bascule Bridge, which links Harton Quay with the ferry’s pontoon.
The bridge, which weighs 240 tonnes, was raised up by one metre on Monday evening using a lifting rig so that workers could get access. The lift took two hours to complete.
The bearings are being stripped out and replaced. They are vital for the South Shields ferry landing as they allow the bridge to pivot with the changing tides on the River Tyne.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the cross-Tyne Shields Ferry service, has closed the ferry all this week to allow for the project to take place.
The work is part of £1.1 million Nexus is investing in maintenance and improvements to the historic Shields Ferry river crossing over five years.
North Shields-based civil engineering specialists, Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, is carrying out the project on behalf of Nexus
Project Manager, Graham Taylor, said: “We have suspended the seaward aide of the ferry landing’s bridge so that we can get access to the bearings.
“The bearings will be taken away, stripped down, refurbished, re-greased and new pins installed before they are put back into place. We can then lower the bridge back down ahead of the planned re-opening on Monday 4 March.
“The manual lift of the bridge had to be done at high tide. We jacked the landing into position and it is secured about the ferry’s pontoon for the duration of the project. It was a difficult lift but it went well and it was all in place after two hours of work on Monday night.”
Shields Ferry Manager, Carol Timlin, said: “This is vital work that we are doing and it will ensure that the ferry landings are structurally sound for many years to come.”
While crossings are suspended a half hourly replacement bus service will run between the North Shields and South Shields ferry landings via Tyne Tunnel.
The South Shields landing which is undergoing the work was first modernised by Nexus in 1999, when the bridge and pontoon were put in place as part of a £1.8m project.