Work starts to raise New Wear Crossing pylon

Sunderland's new bridge is on the up.

Work to raise the 100metre central pylon of the New Wear Crossing began at first light and went on until dusk. It is expected to be completed at some point on Saturday.

Spectators are welcome to watch the work but an exclusion zone is in operation around the bridge site for safety reasons and people are being asked to respect both barriers and members of the marshalling team, who will be in place throughout the operation.

By 1pm, the pylon had been raised by about 35 degrees and by 4pm it was more than half way through the raising operation.

Stephen McCaffrey is project director for FVB joint Venture, the company which is building the bridge: "We are very happy with it so far," he said.

"We had a very smooth take-off this morning and things are proceeding as planned."

Project director Stephen McCaffrey is interviewed about the pylon raising

Project director Stephen McCaffrey is interviewed about the pylon raising

The pylon will be closely monitored throughout the lift to ensure it is proceeding as intended.

"We have a number of monitoring points all over the erection system," said Stephen.

"They are being carefully monitored throughout the process. We did a test earlier this week and the results were as we expected, so that gives us great confidence."

David Abdy is Sunderland City Council's project director on the bridge scheme.

...and just before noon

...and just before noon

Raising the pylon would transform the city's skyline, he said.

"This is when, visually, it starts to come together," he said.

"We talk about the fact we have a significant land landmark, now people will start to see what that does mean.

"In this particular part of Sunderland, there is no existing landmark for it to compete with. It will have the area all to itself and it will fill that skyline fantastically."

Today marked the second of four major phases in the bridge construction, he said.

The first had been the building of the first bridge deck and the next would be to extend the deck across the river, before the fourth stage, securing the cables that will hold the deck in place.

The movement and raising of the pylon is being carried out by Sarens, a world leader in heavy lifting and engineered transport, in partnership with FVB.

The new bridge will link Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south, and will have dual two-lane carriageways for vehicles, as well as dedicated cycle and pedestrian routes. It will enhance public transport, as well as significantly improve the important transport links to the city centre and Port of Sunderland from the A19 and A1.

It is on track to open in the spring of 2018.

*Northumbria Police have warned people not to fly drones over the bridge site while the pylon is being raised.

It is against the law to fly drones within 150 metres of people and buildings and over industrial sites, without prior approval first.

Sergeant Mark Boustead, of Northumbria Police’s Operations Department, said: "The public need to know that if we identify them as flying a drone in this area they could be prosecuted.

"Flying these types of aircraft within 150 metres of a congested area is a criminal offence and may contravene air safety legislation. Those found violating that rule could face criminal prosecution.

"Not only could flying drones in the area affect the installation of the centrepiece, but it could put members of the public in the area at risk."

All drone operators must be aware of the rules set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding drone flights, and follow the guidelines. For additional information, go to www.dronesafe.uk