Sunderland’s £100m bridge will cross Wear within three years – and it’ll be taller than Big Ben

An artist's impression of the new bridge.
An artist's impression of the new bridge.
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SUNDERLAND’S new £100million-plus bridge will be a reality within three years.

Council bosses have put pen to paper on a deal to build the Wear crossing, which will link Wessington Way to Pallion.

An artist's impression of the new bridge.

An artist's impression of the new bridge.

Contractors Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction have formed a new joint venture to carry out the work.

It was named as the council’s preferred bidder at a cabinet meeting in January, and the decision has now been rubber-stamped by the Government.

The overall £117.6million budget includes all design, construction, management and land assembly costs for both the bridge and its approach roads, and will be made up of £35.079million from the city council and £82.521million of Government cash.

• Related story: North East business leaders welcome Wear Crossing announcement + timetable

This announcement is great news for Sunderland and the wider region. We have now secured a development that is going to further the regeneration of our city.

City council leader, Coun Paul Watson

Preliminary work to divert utilities alongside the A1231 Wessington Way has already started and contractors are expected to move onto the site within weeks.

City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “The bridge and its approach roads are going to open up regeneration and development sites along the River Wear, and bring more investment into Sunderland.

“As a piece of infrastructure, it is one of the region’s biggest civil engineering projects, and an investment that is going to help create more jobs and more economic growth.

“By improving links between the A19, the city centre and the Port of Sunderland, a new bridge has always been a key part of Sunderland’s on-going regeneration.

How the new bridge measures up.

How the new bridge measures up.

“This announcement is great news for Sunderland and the wider region.

“There has been talk for a long, long time that Sunderland has needed a major new road crossing over the River Wear and it’s an issue that has not gone away.

“We have now secured a development that is going to further the regeneration of our city.”

The new plan replaces the “iconic” design by award-winning architect Stephen Spence, which was unveiled in 2008.

An aerial view showing the route of the new Wear Crossing.

An aerial view showing the route of the new Wear Crossing.

Council bosses were forced to abandon the design two years ago, after failing to find a developer willing to take the project on for the budget available.

The new three-span cable-stayed design features an A-frame pylon rising to 115m (379ft), twice as high as Gateshead’s Millennium Bridge and taller than Big Ben.

It will have two lanes of traffic in both directions, plus dedicated cycleways and footpaths along its full length.

This is in line with revised planning permission granted in August 2014.

Farrans Construction managing director John Wilson said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract for the Wear Crossing along with our JV Partner Victor Buyck.

“We look forward to building on our strong relationship and proactive approach to deliver this landmark structure.”