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Sunderland schoolchildren get close up look at new multmillion-pound city transport project

Learning more about the Northern Gateway, councillors Barry Curran and Debra Waller with project manager Andrew Bruce and Dame Dorothy pupils.
Learning more about the Northern Gateway, councillors Barry Curran and Debra Waller with project manager Andrew Bruce and Dame Dorothy pupils.

Schoolchildren have seen first hand how a major new highways project in Sunderland is taking shape.

Nearly 200 children from Dame Dorothy Primary School have now visited the city’s Northern Gateway project.

Children from Sunderland's Dame Dorothy Primary School find out more about the Northern Gateway scheme from project manager Andrew Bruce.

Children from Sunderland's Dame Dorothy Primary School find out more about the Northern Gateway scheme from project manager Andrew Bruce.

Works on the gateway began in February this year and they are taking a summer break during July’s Tall Ships Races and the 30th Sunderland Airshow.

The works will then resume and are due for completion later this year.

The gateway is about North Bridge Street and Dame Dorothy Street becoming two-way for all traffic and improving access in and out of the city centre.

Pupils at Dame Dorothy, which is in Dock Street and close to the project, have been visiting the sites near their school and at North Bridge Street.

How The Wheatsheaf Junction in Monkwearmouth will look when the Northern Gateway plan is approved.

How The Wheatsheaf Junction in Monkwearmouth will look when the Northern Gateway plan is approved.

They were joined by Councillor Debra Waller, the city council’s deputy cabinet member for Environment and Transportation, and Councillor Barry Curran, a St Peter’s ward member and Dame Dorothy School Governor.

Coun Waller said: “By improving our city’s built environment and its transport connections we attract more investment and we improve links in and across our community.

“The Northern Gateway is very much part of this commitment to improvements.

“Work is progressing well, it’s been fun meeting the pupils and they’ve all been very interested in hearing and seeing more about the project.”

How North Bridge Street northbound will look when the Northern Gateway plan is completed.

How North Bridge Street northbound will look when the Northern Gateway plan is completed.

At school and site visits, council highways engineers have explained construction techniques and the project’s programme of works.

The programme for this week includes demolition and infilling of the Church Street North subway with foam concrete.

Plus, continuing the improvements to North Bridge Street with new paving and road widening.

The subway will be filled with a total of 500m³ of foam concrete - the equivalent volume of 1.5 million mugs of coffee.

Iain Williamson, headteacher at Dame Dorothy, said: “Pupils are always very keen to know what is going in the world around them, especially as the highways environment near the school is changing with these works.

“We’ve had good feedback from teachers, all the pupils and everybody has gained an insight and a better understanding of engineering and construction techniques.

“I’m fairly certain that we now have more pupils who want to go into construction or engineering.”

The city council’s Cabinet backed the gateway’s works programme at its January meeting after the council secured an extra £3.36million of funding through the National Productivity Investment Fund.

This allowed the council to revise the budget and propose extra features including more highway resurfacing and new paving throughout the North Bridge Street area.

The scheme includes:

• New signalised junction at the Church Street North/Dame Dorothy Street junction, with new pedestrian crossing facilities

• Road widening on Dame Dorothy Street for two-way traffic. This will also include the construction of a new retaining wall within the grass verge

• New road layout at the North Bridge Street/Dame Dorothy Street junction to allow a right turn onto Dame Dorothy Street

• Amendments to the Wheatsheaf junction to allow all vehicles to travel southbound on North Bridge Street

• Changes to the roadmarkings over the Wearmouth Bridge and southern bridgehead roundabout.