Major roadworks begin for new Sunderland bridge
Drivers are coping with delays as major roadworks begin for the New Wear Crossing project.
Work started today for the removal of the traffic islands and the roundabout that connects Pallion New Road, European Way, Pallion Subway and Woodbine Terrace.
That work will be followed by a single (southbound only) off-peak lane closure on Pallion Subway for three days, with a four-week closure of a short section of European Way then starting on Monday, April 18.
The section of European Way between Pallion Junction and the entrance to Pallion Industrial Estate is shut in both directions to enable the construction team to replace a section of service diversions. Utility connections, such as for gas and electricity, need to be moved as part of the construction programme.
Signed diversions, via St Luke's Road, are in place for both of these closures and pedestrian access to facilities, such as local shops and Pallion Metro Station, will be maintained.
Local shops and businesses in the area, including those at Pallion Retail Park, Pallion High Street, Pallion Quay and Pallion Industrial Estate will remain open as normal at all times.
Traffic management will be in place, with lane closures at off-peak times in the immediate vicinity, as well as footpath closures around the area until the summer of 2017.
The end result will be a four-way junction with traffic lights on the site of the current roundabout linking Woodbine Terrace, Pallion New Road, European Way and Pallion Subway, which will allow traffic to connect to the new bridge when it opens in the spring of 2018.
Looking further ahead, the end of 2016 will mark a significant milestone in the construction of the bridge when the impressive 105m A-frame pylon is floated from Belgium on a giant barge before being slowly hoisted into position on the river.
Twice as high as Nelson's Column and taller than Big Ben's clock tower, it will arrive into the Port of Sunderland and will then be slowly transported up the River Wear in a carefully planned phase of work.
The new bridge will 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 Sunderland for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "When the new bridge and link roads open, it will significantly increase accessibility to the Pallion area, as well as other parts of the city. There will be a new, quick route from the A19 to the city centre and the Port of Sunderland that will give local residents and businesses access to new opportunities."
Stephen McCauley, Project Director for FBI joint venture, created by Arras Construction and Victor Buy ck Steel Construction to build the bridge, said that the team acknowledged that delays for drivers could be frustrating, but that the work was essential.
He said: "The vast majority of the work and the closures will be scheduled for off-peak to minimise disruption wherever possible, but we do expect there will be some local delays in the area while work is underway.
"It's important people realise that we're not closing access to any local businesses throughout any of the works. We really value the support, understanding and patience shown by local businesses, residents and commuters across the city while we build this new bridge."