Major structural maintenance work approve for Sunderland's Newcastle Road bridge

City leaders have backed major proposals for structural maintenance works to safeguard a key bridge in Sunderland.

By Chris Binding
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 5:47 pm

Sunderland City Council’s ruling cabinet were this week asked to start the formal process of seeking and appointing a contractor for a project at Newcastle Road Bridge.

The bridge is a council-owned asset that carries Newcastle Road over the Network Rail and Metro line in the St Peter’s and Southwick wards, and is seen as a “vital transport link” both regionally and nationally.

According to a report prepared for cabinet, inspections found that elements of the bridge structure were “at risk of local failure”.

Repairs have been approved for the route.

As a result, further investigation and repair work is needed to “mitigate the risk of any damage to the structure or to Network Rail/Nexus infrastructure.”

Councillor Kevin Johnston, cabinet member for Dynamic City, delivered a report on the matter to cabinet at City Hall on Thursday, July 14.

The report asked the cabinet to authorise the project and the procurement and award of a construction contract for the works, subject to the completion of a funding agreement with the North East Joint Transport Committee.

Senior councillors heard that the cost of “intrusive investigation and repairs” was estimated to be £750,000.

This would be funded from the Integrated Transport Block allocation for 2022/23 – which is used to support local authority transport improvements.

Cllr Johnston added that the timescales for the work would need to be agreed with Network Rail and Nexus, due to the “constraints” of working over rail infrastructure.

Cllr Johnston went on to say: “An option to do nothing is not recommended as it carries a risk of partial failure of the bridge, affecting Network Rail / Nexus infrastructure and the potential risk to passengers and staff.

“Ultimately without intervention to the bridge, it will lose structural integrity, causing possible weight restriction and closure”.

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, welcomed the scheme and added “essential repairs must be done”.

A cabinet report confirms the project will carry out consultation relating to temporary traffic management as well as full consultation with Network Rail and Nexus.