Video: Sunderland's new Wear Crossing takes major step forward

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Work on Sunderland's new Wear Crossing is set to step up a gear.

Work is about to start on the foundations in the middle of the river, with the work on a new cofferdam - a large watertight steel structure in the middle of the river - nearing completion.

David Abdy, Wear Crossing project director for Sunderland City Council, council leader Coun Paul Watson and Stephen McCaffrey, project director for FVB, the joint venture company building the bridge

David Abdy, Wear Crossing project director for Sunderland City Council, council leader Coun Paul Watson and Stephen McCaffrey, project director for FVB, the joint venture company building the bridge

After Easter it will be drained, allowing the team to work below the water surface.

The foundations to the main bridge pylon will begin to take shape in the cofferdam in April and the bridge supports on either side of the river will also be put in place, ready for

the positioning of the bridge deck in the summer.

Sunderland City Council Leader Coun Paul Watson said: "The people of Sunderland have waited a long time for this bridge, so it will be wonderful to see the foundations getting under way in the river.

"A lot of work has already been done, particularly on the south side of the river, to clear the site and prepare the foundations for the approach road, but work will now be stepping up in the river itself and on the north side.

"The benefits of the bridge are going to be significant. Crucially, it will lead to investment in the city, will see land along the south of the river regenerated, and will reduce journey times for motorists. It’s been a long time coming, but I firmly believe it will be a bridge to a better future."

The end of 2016 will mark a significant milestone, when the impressive 105m A-frame pylon is floated from Belgium on a giant barge before being slowly hoisted into position on the river.

Twice as high as Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben’s clock tower, it will arrive into the Port of Sunderland and will then be slowly transported up the River Wear in a carefully planned phase of work.

It will take several hours to raise the pylon and secure it in place, creating a spectacle for the people of Sunderland to watch.

*We’ve joined forces with Sunderland City Council to give the people of Sunderland a role in deciding what the new Wear Crossing should be called.

The process will involve two phases – the first to choose a theme and the second to come up with the name itself.

The themes for selection are:

• History and heritage - Sunderland has a history to be proud of.

Major industries and local heroes put Sunderland on the map, whether it was saints, soldiers, ship building, mining, glass making or inventors.

Should the name of the bridge reflect our past achievements?

• Features, appearance or location of the bridge – The bridge will be a new landmark for Sunderland.

Should the name reference its striking design or height?

Should it include the name of our city? Should it reference our river and coastline?

• Forward thinking/aspirational – The bridge is a bold statement about the ambition of the city, and the commitment to making improvements, which will bring new developments, investments and jobs.

Should the name reflect our plans and hopes for the future, the pride of residents and our innovative approach?

• Your own suggestion – Please let us know any other suggestions for a theme for the name, with a short explanation.

Phase 2 of the consultation will take place in the summer, when people will be asked to select from a shortlist on the chosen theme.

The final name will then be announced towards the end of 2016, to coincide with the bridge pylon being lifted into place.

History and heritage is leading the on-line field at the moment, but it's still all up for grabs, so make sure to register your vote.

Vote online HERE or send your suggestions to Bridge Naming Consultation, Rm 3.105, Civic Centre, Sunderland, SR2 7DN. Voting is open until March 23.