The cutter suction dredger, Vesalius is expected to arrive on the Tyne at 8pm Wednesday 3rd November and berth at Riverside Quay, South Shields, ready to begin dredging a channel for the second vehicle tunnel under the river this weekend.
The start of dredging marks a crucial milestone for the New Tyne Crossing project. Four 90metre long reinforced concrete tunnel elements have already been constructed at Walker Dry Dock ready for immersion into the dredged trench early next year.
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 Port of Tyne owned land at 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."
The 93metre long Vesalius will arrive on the back of a 110metre long by 45metre wide submersible deck cargo barge, the "Eide Barge 33", both of which are being towed by 78metre long tug vessel the "Eide Wrestler".
The 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.
Brian Reeve, Chief Technical Officer Port of Tyne adds: "The project has reached an exciting stage, as 400,000 cubic metres of sediment, removed from the dredged trench will be pumped directly to infill Tyne Dock. Not only does this represent the most environmentally friendly option for disposal of the dredged material but it also provides a once in a generation opportunity to infill the Port of Tyne owned Tyne Dock. Once complete, the infill will provide an additional 13 acres of land for future Port developments."