Work on Sunderland’s New Wear Crossing has taken a big leap forward today (Thursday 13 October) with the launch of the bridge deck out across the River Wear.
The first section of bridge deck is being pulled 120 metres across the river from the embankment in Pallion in an operation that is expected to take around ten hours to complete.
Hydraulic jacks are being used to slowly manoeuvre the steel frame, pulling the deck between 10 metres and 15 metres per hour. On completion, the first section of deck will come to rest a third of the way across the river.
It is being supported on a series of temporary supports that have been engineered within the riverbed, enabling assembly of the second phase of the bridge deck to get underway directly behind it on the south side of the river.
Once the 105-metre high A-frame pylon, which is the main centrepiece of the bridge, arrives on site this winterand is then raised into position, the extended bridge deck will be pulled into position across the width of the river.
A series of cables will then be secured between the pylon and the deck later next year, and once they are fitted and tensioned to take the weight of the bridge, the temporary supports will be removed.
Leader of Sunderland City Council Cllr Paul Watson said: “Our new bridge is taking shape well now and it’s very exciting to see the construction team launching the bridge deck across the River Wear.
“The New Wear Crossing will help improve traffic flow across the city from the A19 through to the city centre and the Port of Sunderland and create huge opportunities for regeneration and investment along the river bank, so it’s great news for the north east that it’s progressing well.”
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director of FVB joint venture, formed by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction to deliver the project on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said the operation to launch the bridge deck is going well.
He said: “I’d like to thank the whole team for their hard work and commitment today and over the past few weeks, which has ensured this complex process has gone smoothly.
“Pulling a 2,500 tonne section of bridge out over the middle of the river is not easy and takes a lot of engineering and preparation. We have a variety of UK and international experts working on the project who are bringing together their skills to make sure everything goes ahead as planned.”
Patrick Van Severen, Project Director for Victor Buyck Steel Construction, said: “This kind of bridge deck launch operation is always very exciting for our team because it is one of the major landmarks in the construction process, where people can see the scale of the project.
“We’re on track to open the new bridge in spring 2018 and our focus over the next few months will be on constructing the second phase of the bridge deck and bringing the pylon to Sunderland and then raising it in the river, which will be a spectacular sight.”
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.