The cutter suction dredger, Vesalius arrived on the River Tyne in early November ready to begin dredging a channel for the second vehicle tunnel under the river.

The start of dredging marks a crucial milestone for the New Tyne Crossing project. Four 90m long reinforced concrete tunnel elements have already been constructed at Walker Dry Dock ready for immersion into the dredged trench early next year.

The 93m long Vesalius will be berthed at Riverside Quay, South Shields while preparations are made to the vessel to enable it to begin dredging operations. It will be moved to the site of the new vehicle tunnel, between Howdon Basin in the north and Jarrow Riverside Park in the south, on Sunday 8th November to begin dredging operations.

Nicolas Caille, Project Managing Director for Bouygues Travaux Publics, the main design and build contractor, said: “The arrival of the dredger is a very visible sign that the key part of this project is about to begin.

“Progress on the land tunnels is right on target, with excavations for all the cut and cover sections complete, and floor and roof slabs for the new tunnel already built in parts of Jarrow and East Howdon. What we need now is that vital connection between the north and south land tunnels, and with dredging due to start we can look forward to making that connection a reality in a matter of months.”