Echo backing Sunderland bridge campaign

Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson with plans for new bridge.

Sunderland Council leader Paul Watson with plans for new bridge.

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THE Echo is backing the drive to make Sunderland’s iconic bridge dream a reality.

Parent company North East Press is among dozens of Wearside businesses which have signed up to support the bid to build a new Wear crossing.

A bid has been submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) for £82.5million towards the cost of the new bridge, which will link Castletown and Pallion.

Other businesses backing the scheme include Nissan, Arriva, Hays Travel, Liebherr and Gentoo.

City council leader Coun Paul Watson said: “Knowing that some of the biggest companies in the region have welcomed the project is very helpful.

“There has been talk for a long time that Sunderland has needed a new major road crossing and it is an issue that has not gone away.”

The DfT pledged to put up to £98million towards the cost of the new crossing in 2008, but the funding was suspended last year as part of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Fresh applications were then invited and the latest application – dubbed the Best and Final Bid – is the result.

The DfT has a pot of up to £600million available for local transport projects which can help boost economic growth and create jobs.

Arriva finance director Martin Hibbert said the company recognised the massive impact the scheme could have on Sunderland’s economy.

“Arriva acknowledges the benefits the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor will bring to Sunderland and the surrounding areas and I confirm the group’s support to the implementation of this project,” he said.

Businesses and members of the public have until Friday, October 14, to officially register their support for the bridge project.

Details of the scheme – including the letters of support already received from businesses – can be seen online at www.newsunderlandbridge.co.uk and submissions of support can be sent to development.pool@dft.gsi.gov.uk

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