The Tyne Road Tunnels consist of two separate tunnels, built at separate times, between Jarrow on the south bank and North Shields in the north. They form the lowest vehicular crossing point of the River Tyne and are used by around 40,000 vehicles per day.
The first tunnel is 1,690 metres long and was excavated using a tunnelling shield under compressed air. The consulting engineers were Mott Macdonald and the main contractor was Costain. The tunnel fully opened in 1968 and had two-way traffic within. Various utility services are placed beneath the concrete carriageway. The original toll was half a crown (12.5p).
To both increase capacity and improve safety, a second roughly parallel tunnel was added to the east of the earlier one. After an Act of Parliament and public enquiry, construction started in 2008. This approaches to this second tunnel were constructed by cut-and-cover. The underwater section was built by digging a trench in the riverbed and then sinking four 90 metre long tubes into position. Each tubular section weghed around 10,000 tonnes. Short sections of conventionally excavated tunnels link the cut and cover and tubular portions. The contract for the design and build was let to Bouygues Travaux Publics.
The new tunnel has an emergency refuge and escape passage then runs the full length of the tunnel. After the second tunnel was opened, it operated as two-way for a period while a similar escape passage was built to one side of the earlier one. Improved closed circuit television, fire monitoring and suppression equipment was also installed in both. Tolls through the tunnel are currently (2020) £1.80 for cars and £3.60 for larger vehicles.