Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tunnel Vision

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tunnel Vision

Article excerpt

Byline: By Nick Whitten

Family homes are to be flattened to make way for the second tunnel under the Tyne.

As it was revealed work will start next year on the pounds 185m project, there was a mixed reaction.

While business chiefs reacted with delight, tenants who will see their homes demolished spoke of their sadness

As revealed in later editions of last night's Chronicle, a consortium led by French civil engineering giants Bouygues Travaux Publics has been appointed to build the new crossing.

The appointment clears the way for a new tunnel between Jarrow and Howdon next to the existing one.

The North East Chamber of Commerce which represents 4,000 North East businesses welcomed the move.

Rob McMullen, NECC policy manager said: "This is such delightful news. Businesses in the region were beginning to despair."

And chairman of the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority Coun David Wood added: "The new Tyne crossing is vital to the prosperity of the people of North and South Tyneside, Tyne and Wear and other communities along the A19."

But the announcement has not been welcomed by everyone.

Around ten homes on High Street, Salem Street and Commercial Road in Jarrow will be demolished.

Some have already been flattened, while others stand empty.

One bungalow on Salem Street remains occupied, by Josephine Smeatham, 53, and her son Thomas Haines, 33, who stayed in their home, clinging on to the hope that a campaign by environmental group, Friends of the Earth might prevent the tunnel.

Josephine said: "We just kept hoping that the campaigners would win. Everyone else has left but we wanted to stay just in case.

"The council is doing their best to find us another house, but we like this one."

Thomas added: "We would have been out earlier like everyone else if it wasn't for the Friends of the Earth man."

It is expected the tunnel will be open by 2011.

Coun Barrie Scorer, who represents the ward on South Tyneside Council said: "We are going to keep a close eye on it. My only concern is that when the work goes on, the people of Jarrow are looked after. …

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