WEARSIDERS have just days left to throw their support behind the bid to build a new landmark bridge in Sunderland.
Spiralling 190m high and spanning the river between Pallion and North Hylton, the new Wear bridge would be the highest in England and become an icon for the city on the international stage.
Sunderland’s leaders say it would also slash congestion, improve business links, boost regeneration and underpin the success of the new low-carbon Enterprise Zone.
Sunderland City Council has submitted a fresh bid for funding after the Coalition Government’s spending review, and Wearsiders have until Friday to give the project their backing.
Council leader Paul Watson said: “We undertook city-wide public consultation in 2008, which revealed widespread public support for this project, which would bring enormous benefits to Sunderland.
“We’re doing everything we can to turn this project into a reality, and we’re encouraging everyone in the city to let the Department of Transport know that they are behind the project.”
Funding for the bridge, designed by South Shields-born architect and Sunderland fan Stephen Spence with engineers Techniker, was originally pledged by Labour ministers if the council met certain conditions.
But the cash was caught up in the new Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, and council chiefs were invited to apply again for cash.
The council submitted a “best and final offer” to the Department for Transport (Dft) in September for £82.5million – about £15.million than the original sum earmarked by the Government.
The council and its partners will make up the rest of the cash needed for the project.
If the new funding bid is successful, contractors will be appointed next year and the construction project will take place from autumn 2012 to autumn 2015.
The bridge and its approach roads will form the centrepiece of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor superroute.
Council chiefs say the crossing is needed as part of the new route into central Sunderland, linking Port of Sunderland with the A19, helping reduce traffic congestion and connecting major development sites.
The project will also make acres of brownfield regeneration land available for housing and private sector investment and employment.
* Comments in support of the bridge project can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by this Friday.
Information, including a 3D flythrough of the new crossing, can be seen on www.newsunderlandbridge.com.