Expert brands new £120million Sunderland bridge a ‘scandalous waste of public funds’

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BOSSES behind the new Wear bridge have hit back after an engineering expert labelled it a “scandalous waste of public funds”.

Simon Bourne, an independent bridge expert, accused the £120million project of being a “staggeringly poor example of bridge engineering”.

In his critique of the structure he said it was unnecessarily complicated and structurally inefficient.

His concerns even prompted him to write to transport secretary Justine Greening outlining his worries and urging her to withdraw government funding.

In an interview with New Civil Enginner magazine, Mr Bourne said: “A bridge of this type is a gross misuse of public money in a time of austerity.”

But Sunderland City Council and the bridge’s structural engineers Techniker have dismissed his criticisms, saying it was always their intention to create a landmark structure.

Matthew Wells, managing director of Techniker, said: “The original remit for this project was as part of a design competition with the intention to create a functional, innovative and landmark structure.

“Our team has worked tirelessly since 2006 analysing every aspect of this structure, its manufacture, construction and maintenance.

“Once completed we know it will bring considerable benefits to the communal, cultural and commercial interests of Sunderland.

“Cities are defined by their landmarks, particularly bridges, and Sunderland and the North East have a long and proud history of landmark bridges, especially innovative bridges.”

David Abdy, New Wear Crossing Project Director, Sunderland City Council, said: “The New Wear Crossing has been rigorously designed, costed, admired and backed within the industry and profession.

“The project is functional and symbolic, and its regeneration benefits were recognised by the Department for Transport in its decision to award funding.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7