Sunderland’s new bridge is taking a massive step forward today - literally.
The first phase of the Wear Crossing bridge deck is being pulled into place and by the end of this afternoon will be sticking out 120 metres across the river from the embankment in Pallion.
Hydraulic jacks are being used to slowly manoeuvre the steel frame, pulling the deck at a speed of between 10 and 15 metres per hour.
Patrick Van Severen, Project Director for Victor Buyck Steel Construction, is in charge of overseeing today’s operation: “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,” he said.
“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.”
By this evening, the first section of deck will have come to rest a third of the way across the river.
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.
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 under way 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 winter and is raised into position, the extended bridge deck will be pulled into position across the width of the river.
Then a series of cables will be secured between the pylon and the deck, and once they are fitted and tensioned to take the weight of the bridge, the temporary supports will be removed.
Sunderland City Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman was on site for today’s operation: “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, is in overall charge of the bridge construction. Today’s operation was the result of a lot of team work and planning, 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.”
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For more information, go to www.newwearcrossing.co.uk, or call 0800 223 0379