Ben Houchen also commits to new railway station at Teesside airport
The mayor of Tees Valley has promised a study to explore the viability of a new crossing of the river Tees, funded by money from the cancelled parts of HS2.
In a video posted to X, formerly Twitter, Ben Houchen demonstrated the 45 minutes it currently takes to travel between Redcar and Hartlepool.
“[That] just isn’t right, so because of that we are going to look at doing some work on an eastern crossing,” he said, explaining that a new link could reduce journey times between the towns to just two to three minutes.
Announcing the £1m feasibility study, Houchen continued: “We are going to look at how much it would cost, where it could go, we are going to do some surveys to see whether it is physically possible.
“Because if we can connect Redcar and Hartlepool with each other, better connecting up employment opportunities, better connecting up our whole region, I think it is a really vital piece of work to do.
“We can use some of the money from the cancellation of the Manchester leg of HS2 and we can put that towards the exploration of a new eastern crossing”.
The feasibility study will consider the possibility of a tunnel or a bridge over the river.
The preference of the mayor, who first tabled proposals for a crossing in 2018, is for a tunnel rather than a bridge, which has led the project to be dubbed the “Tees Tunnel”.
“I personally don’t think a bridge is the right idea as it could limit the size of ships that you get down the river,” Houchen told BBC Tees, although he admitted that he did not a tunnel would be viable.
Houchen has also committed to rebuild the railway station at Teeside Airport, which is set to be demolished next week.
The station is one of the UK’s least used – with an estimated 338 passenger journeys made in 2019/20 – and Houchen said it was “in dire need of a makeover”.
The £20m scheme will also be funded through re-diverted HS2 cash, according to Houchen.