Mr Sargeant said:
“ I want to express my appreciation for the professionalism of the emergency services and the team who have worked tirelessly to reopen the tunnel before the Friday rush-hour in addition to the patience and understanding of motorists."
“We all know how dangerous a tunnel fire can be and what the implications are if it is allowed to become out of control. The initial blaze was dealt with expediently, with the safety of motorists paramount. The fact that there were no fatalities or injuries, even though the fire took place during rush hour, is a testament to the skill and dedication of the emergency professionals involved.
“Following the structural assessment that was concluded earlier this morning - and the considerable amount of work carried out on the tunnels over the last 72 hours - the westbound tunnel has now been reopened.
“This morning we have resurfaced sections of the tunnel, replaced white lining, replaced reflective studs and cleaned the tunnel bore and surfacing.
“The westbound tunnel will be opened with only partial lighting. It will therefore be opened under a 30 mph speed restriction which will remain in place until we are able to carry out improvements to the tunnel over the coming weeks during a series of night time closures to minimise disruption to road users.”