DCSIMG

'People's bridge'gets the go-ahead

The country's tallest bridge could be built on Wearside by 2014 after city leaders gave it the nod.

Sunderland City Council hopes to see a planning application for the 133million landmark crossing – dubbed "the people's bridge" – before the end of the year.

Regeneration chiefs hope the structure – standing 180metres tall and spanning 336metres across the Wear – will not only slash congestion and improve business routes but also become an international icon for Sunderland. Work could start as soon as 2012.

Council leader Paul Watson described it as "the people's bridge" and said it would become a beacon for the city's future development.

"People told the council they wanted a landmark bridge for the city and we have listened," he said.

"The people's bridge will be a distinctive new symbol for the city, help raise Sunderland's profile and the potential for greater prosperity and further regeneration along the river corridor and in the city centre."

The decision to press ahead with the bridge was made by senior councillors on Sunderland's ruling cabinet yesterday.

It followed a major public consultation exercise which showed wide public support for the competition-winning design.

Structural engineering firm Techniker, which worked on the original design alongside architect Stephen Spence, was hired to complete further work to prove the project was viable and affordable.

Director Matthew Wells said nine months of work had been carried out to make sure the bridge could be built to budget without problems in either construction or maintenance.

He said: "Sunderland has a long tradition of bridge building – the Wearmouth bridge was the biggest of its time in the 18th century and the Queen Alexandra was the heaviest of its time.

"We want to make something which compares with that."

He added: "I was recently in Rotterdam, where the Erasmus bridge has become an international symbol for that city – and I hope this bridge will do the same for Sunderland."

Mr Spence, a Black Cats fan originally from South Shields, said there was now the funding and political backing needed to make the bridge happen.

He said: "It's bold, it's ambitious and it will be a great thing for Sunderland.

"The design life of the bridge is 120 years, but in real terms it's going to be there for many future generations.

"The chance to come and build something so important on the skyline of your home area is an amazing opportunity and a lifetime experience."

Funding for the bridge has been identified from both council and Government sources, including the 98million pledged by the Department for Transport.

The council has said it will put in 23million towards the project for the bridge and its access roads.

The crossing will form the centrepiece of the congestion-busting road system known as the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor which regeneration agency Sunderland arc says could help bring 10,000 jobs to Wearside.

David Walker, chief executive of the arc, said: "The bridge has always formed part of our overall plan for central Sunderland as it will help to connect regeneration sites such as Farringdon Row and Holmeside.

"This striking and iconic design is already putting Sunderland on the map and being well received by potential investors and developers."

Sunderland Tory leader Lee Martin welcomed the cabinet's decision to press ahead with the bridge and said Conservative councillors had always been pushing for a landmark bridge to be built over the Wear.

Work could start as soon as 2012.

Council leader Paul Watson described it as “the people’s bridge” and said it would become a beacon for the city’s future development.

“People told the council they wanted a landmark bridge for the city and we have listened,” he said.

“The people’s bridge will be a distinctive new symbol for the city, help raise Sunderland’s profile and the potential for greater prosperity and further regeneration along the river corridor and in the city centre.”

The decision to press ahead with the bridge was made by senior councillors on Sunderland’s ruling cabinet yesterday.

It followed a major public consultation exercise which showed wide public support for the competition-winning design.

Structural engineering firm Techniker, which worked on the original design alongside architect Stephen Spence, was hired to complete further work to prove the project was viable and affordable.

Director Matthew Wells said nine months of work had been carried out to make sure the bridge could be built to budget without problems in either construction or maintenance.

He said: “Sunderland has a long tradition of bridge building – the Wearmouth bridge was the biggest of its time in the 18th century and the Queen Alexander was the heaviest of its time.

“We want to make something which compares with that.”

He added: “I was recently in Rotterdam, where the Erasmus bridge has become an international symbol for that city – and I hope this bridge will do the same for Sunderland.”

Mr Spence, a Black Cats fan originally from South Shields, said there was now the funding and political backing needed to make the bridge happen.

He said: “It’s bold, it’s ambitious and it will be a great thing for Sunderland.

“The design life of the bridge is 120 years, but in real terms it’s going to be there for many future generations.

“The chance to come and build something so important on the skyline of your home area is an amazing opportunity and a lifetime experience.”

Funding for the bridge has been identified from both council and Government sources, including the 98million pledged by the Department for Transport.

The council has said it will put in 23million towards the project for the bridge and its access roads.

The crossing will form the centrepiece of the congestion-busting road system known as the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor which regeneration agency Sunderland arc says could help bring 10,000 jobs to Wearside.

David Walker, chief executive of the arc, said: “The bridge has always formed part of our overall plan for central Sunderland as it will help to connect regeneration sites such as Farringdon Row and Holmeside.

“This striking and iconic design is already putting Sunderland on the map and being well received by potential investors and developers.”

Sunderland Tory leader Lee Martin welcomed the cabinet’s decision to press ahead with the bridge and said Conservative councillors had always been pushing for a landmark bridge to be built over the Wear.

 
 
 

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