The new bridge in Sunderland is making good progress with Northumbrian Roads now working on site.
The initial base layers are being laid on the two new roads that will lead from the New Wear Crossing on the south side of the River Wear, as work steps up a pace.
The new Western Link road will lead from the bridge to the roundabout at the western end of European Way, at Pallion Industrial Estate, while the new Southern Approach road will lead from the bridge to the junction between Pallion New Road and European Way.
The roads will be completed in stages, with Northumbrian Roads laying the subbase and base layers now, and the final asphalt layer going down just prior to the bridge opening in Spring 2018.
On the north side of the river, the junction where the bridge connects into on Wessington Way has undergone major roadworks during the past year, including the initial steps to reconfigure the roundabout to a crossroads with traffic lights, and the laying of a new road surface.
Meanwhile, the first section of the bridge deck, which is being built in two parts, is almost complete, and the team has installed hundreds of concrete panels to the deck, which will form the base of the main road surface across the bridge.
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for FVB Joint Venture, which has been formed by Victor Buyck Steel Construction and Farrans Construction to deliver the contract on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said the project was on track to be finished on time and on time budget by spring 2018.
He said: “We are extremely busy on site right now completing the final stages of the first phase bridge deck, ready for it to be launched out across the river later on in the autumn.
“We are also moving at pace with land works around the bridge, including the building of two brand new roads and the alteration of existing roads.
“With a project of this size, there will always be challenges, but we are very happy with progress to date. We have an international team of specialists working together on site to ensure the project is delivered to the highest standards and on time.”
The cofferdam in the centre of the river, where the foundations to the bridge’s main A-frame pylon are being built, has been filled with almost 1,500 cubic metres of concrete.
The 105m pylon – which will be the main centerpiece of the bridge – will be twice the height of Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben’s clock tower.
Chris Dancer, Managing Director of Northumbrian Roads, said: “We are delighted to have started working on the New Wear Crossing project.
“It’s one of the largest construction projects in the North East, which will bring enormous regeneration benefits to Sunderland, while also enhancing the current road network, so we are extremely happy to be involved.
“There is still a lot of work for us to do during the next 18 months, but work is progressing well.”
Council Leader Paul Watson said: “The team has made tremendous progress so far, and exciting stages lie ahead with the launching of the bridge deck out over the river.
“It’s a major project, so there is going to be some disruption in the vicinity around Castletown and Pallion, but wherever possible this is being kept to a minimum.
“We thank everyone for their patience so far and remind motorists to drive carefully, particularly where roadworks are being carried out and lower speed limits are in operation.”
The new bridge will cross the River Wear between Wessington Way in Castletown and European Way in Pallion.
It is the first bridge to be built over the Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.
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For more information, go to www.newwearcrossing.co.uk, or call 0800 223 0379