New Sunderland bridge ‘in the starting blocks’

CGI  of the new bridge plans
CGI of the new bridge plans
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THE new Wear crossing is no longer a bridge too far after councillors agreed to obtain the necessary permissions to begin construction.

Due to the River Wear’s tidal nature, Sunderland City Council must be in possession on a Marine Licence, to begin construction.

Although this licence has previously been granted, it needs to be varied and extended after plans for an “iconic” design were halted in favour of a cheaper, simpler design.

Members of the cabinet have now agreed to obtain statutory permissions, including agreement by the Secretary of State for Transport under the Highways Act.

“We are in the starting blocks for this one,” Cabinet secretary Mel Speding said, during the meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre.

The original bridge scheme was confirmed by the Secretary of State in October 2012. The new design and build process was approved by cabinet last July.

The authority will now go ahead and apply for a 36-month extension to the licence, which is due to expire in December this year.

A report presented to cabinet members stated that this will cover the duration of the works.

The licence also needs to be varied to reduce the size of the proposed central pier to fit with the new design. The scheme will now be submitted on the basis of a minimum clear navigable waterway of 30metres, a headway of not less than 12metres and an overall bridge span of about 336metres.