Sunderland ‘iconic’ bridge dream is officially over

SCRAPPED: Sunderland's proposed iconic bridge
SCRAPPED: Sunderland's proposed iconic bridge
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SUNDERLAND’S dream of an iconic bridge across the Wear has been formally brought to an end.

Ruling cabinet members at Sunderland City Council agreed to end the procurement process to build designer Stephen Spence’s bridge, which would have been England’s tallest at 187 metres.

The design proved too expensive, and neither Northern Ireland-based contractor Graham or Vinci of France were able to submit a tender within the £118million budget.

Senior councillors agreed to enter into a new tender process for a simplified cable-stayed design, which will be built within the original timescale and in the same location.

Councillor John Kelly told the meeting, held at the civic centre yesterday: “I think it’s extremely pertinent that the authority does live within its means, and, whilst the iconic bridge would have been a fantastic achievement within the city, we can’t spend public money on things that are not affordable.”

However, engineer Alan Brown, who works for Leeds-based Trafalgar Marine Technology, which builds laminated concrete systems for marine structures, claims he may be able to help Wearside realise its dream of an iconic bridge.

Mr Brown, who was at the cabinet meeting, says his employers have written to council leader Paul Watson, outlining a proposal using more affordable materials, which he says would be achievable within the original budget.

“We propose to use a different concrete and steel structure than what was originally proposed,” Mr Brown told the Echo after the meeting.

“For that, we need to be involved with the designers, but it’s all about intellectual property rights.

“I would like to see the original one go up – the original design. It reflects the opinion of the Sunderland people – they all like it.

“We don’t want a concrete plank across the Wear.”

He added: “It’s obviously too difficult for them to put it up within the budget, but it’s all about the materials. The biggest problem is putting these towers in the middle of the river – that’s where we can help.”