Work on the New Wear Crossing in Sunderland is intensifying with the installation of more than 900 concrete columns into the embankment along the River Wear.
The construction team in charge of the £117million project begin installing the concrete columns, also known as piles, along the south side of the river next week (Monday 10 August) and these works are to continue through the summer and autumn of 2015.
The columns allow contractors to establish secure, deep foundations for the first exit road leading from the bridge into the Pallion area.
Dismantling and demolition work on the south site is now well underway as bridge construction steps up. In the coming weeks, ground works will intensify on the north side in the area around Wessington Way. The bridge and its approach roads are due to be completed and open to the public in 2018.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said he was delighted to see construction of the bridge progressing.
“We have waited a long time for the new bridge in Sunderland, so it’s wonderful to see work well underway on the New Wear Crossing,” said Cllr Watson.
“I have visited the site and taken a tour of the work underway on both sides of the river and am very happy with the progress. There has been a lot of preparatory work to do, but we are now moving on towards the building stage.
“The piling programme allows contractors to begin construction of the main road leading to the bridge at the south side. People will then be able to see and visualise the physical size and scale of the bridge for themselves. It’s going to be great to watch it come to life.”
The new bridge is to cross the River Wear between Wessington Way in Castletown and European Way in Pallion.
It is the first bridge to be built over the Wear in the city for more than 40 years and, part of a wider strategic transport plan, to help reduce congestion, attract new jobs and investment to Sunderland and help to regenerate the area.
Stephen McCaffrey, is the Project Director with FVB JV, the partnership set up by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction to deliver the project. He said tests had been carried out during recent weeks to ensure the piling programme would be carried out efficiently and smoothly.
He said: “With a project as big as this, there is an a lot of work going on in the background that people don’t see, which is critical to the success of the development.
“We have a large team of designers working on the plans, teams carrying out tests on the land, and a number of people involved in the early construction and dismantling work.
“Obviously, as we progress towards the construction of the bridge itself work on site will intensify, but even in these early stages there is an awful lot of work going on that people can’t see.”
David Abdy, Project Director of the New Wear Crossing Project for Sunderland City Council, said: “Constructing the bridge is complex and requires a lot of initial planning and design work first. During the coming months people will be able to see more and more activity as the area around the bridge, and the nearby road network, are improved and altered in preparation for the bridge.
“The processes involved in completing any major civil engineering project, let alone one as striking and important as this, have to be synchronised.
“Therefore, various essential tasks have to be completed simultaneously. In this case, the piling is the first stage of the construction of the main carriageway at the south side.”