Latest pictures show scale of works on Sunderland's new River Wear bridge

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Works are forging ahead on the new River Wear crossing.

Cranes are dominating the city skyline as work forges ahead on the city’s major Riverside development.

The new pedestrian and cyclist bridge is well underway.The new pedestrian and cyclist bridge is well underway.
The new pedestrian and cyclist bridge is well underway.

Playing a key role in connecting the regeneration works on the north and south side of the River Wear is the new footbridge, which will make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to pass between the two sites.

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Work is well underway and the latest images show the scale of the major project, which is due for completion in summer 2025.

Once open, it will connect the 1000 new homes being built on either side of the Wear, as well as the many new workplaces and hospitality venues such as Sheepfolds Stables.

One end will be just to the side of the stables development, due to open this summer, with the other running next to the new Maker & Faber office blocks, which are also due for completion this summer.

Constructing a bridge is not without its problems and engineers recently had to come up with a unique solution to enable the new footbridge to move forward.

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Building a bridge requires long poles - known as piles - being hammered into the soft soils beneath the bridge until they reach a hard layer of compacted soil or rock. The earth is then replaced with reinforced concrete.

However, due to the location of the bridge’s north pier beside the River Wear, and river working restrictions, the team could not use a the traditional piling rig needed to complete this process.

Civil engineering specialist VolkerStevin and its sister company VolkerGround Engineering have, therefore, designed and delivered a solution hailed as being the first of its kind.

How the new footbridge will lookHow the new footbridge will look
How the new footbridge will look

The new system used a cantilevered piling frame and support guides to allow the necessary work to take place.

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The same frame was used for piling operations on both the north and south piers. The team assembled, adjusted and tested the frame on-site.

Mark Denham, project director, said: “At VolkerStevin we’re no strangers to overcoming complex challenges and the innovative cantilevered piling frame was a crucial part required for the success of this project.

"The development of this solution was made possible through a collaborative approach involving our in-house temporary works team and piling specialists, key supply chain partners and our client.

 "The absence of similar existing solutions prompted extensive research across different sectors. We rigorously evaluated potential solutions based on health and safety, environmental impact, and buildability, leading to the development of this preferred solution from concept to detailed design.”

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Once complete, the new footbridge will be 10m wide, 30m high and over 250m long, comprising reinforced concrete piers, steel box girder superstructure and a precast concrete deck.

Other features include steel parapets, lighting, street furniture and various architectural features.

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