Sunderland’s skyline was transformed at the weekend as the central pylon of the New Wear Crossing was raised into place - and Echo readers love it.
Work to lift the stunning 100metre A-frame centrepiece into place began at first light on Friday and carried on until dark, before resuming first thing on Saturday and finishing around 3.30pm.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson believes the new bridge will open up huge areas of the city for development.
“For a long time, a huge swathe of land along the south bank of the river was in need of regeneration and this bridge is enabling us to do that”, he said.
“Developers are already showing interest in regenerating this area, which will bring investment into Sunderland, create jobs and boost confidence in the city.
“Crucially, the new crossing will also improve links between the A19 and A1 to the city centre and the Port of Sunderland, which will be good news for businesses, residents and commuters.”
Will be a thing of beauty when it’s completed. Something positive for the city.Steve Robson
The new arrival was a hit with the majority of visitors to the Echo’s Facebook page.
Steve Robson wrote: “Will be a thing of beauty when it’s completed. Something positive for the city,” while Nic Wheatley said: “Watched this at work in awe - you really can’t appreciate the sheer size of this till you’re up close. I felt a part of history.”
Cheryl Williams had seen the pylon from some distance: “Just drove past on the A19, it looks fab,” she said, and Paul Burnicle was disappointed not to have been able to keep an eye on the work, writing: “I worked security for a little while on the retail side ages ago. I wish I was still there so I could see this.”
Ann Storey was just relieved the lift process had gone as planned. “So pleased all went well,” she said.
Not everyone was overwhelmed, however - Margaret Crosby said: “Though the construction team have done a good job, I’m far from convinced that spending £117.6 million pounds on this, when we haven’t enough money to clean the streets or empty bins once a week is worth it!”
And Jack Fromme said: “It’s rather underwhelming, I thought it was going to be a lot bigger,” though he later admitted: “I think the size to me looks smaller because in comparison with Wearmouth Bridge, that’s up a height, where that’s floor level.”
The New Wear Crossing - what happens next?
*Three weeks of intensive work have now started to remove the backmast and bolt the pylon down then remove the cables, which supported it in the lifting operation, and secure the pylon in place.
*Each leg will be fixed to one of the massive concrete tusks which have been erected in the middle of the river to support the pylon. A total of 40 bolts will be used, each measuring 6metres long by 6.5cm wide, to secure it in position.
*After the bolts are fitted and fully tightened, and the gaps grouted, the pylon will then become free-standing. Only then will the rigging and cables used for the raising be released. The base of each leg of the pylon will then be filled with reinforced concrete.
*Work is also under way to complete the bridge deck, which will then be pushed out over the river in the spring, covering all but the last 40metres of the distance to the north bank. Following on, the final 40 metres of the deck will be built in-situ to complete the deck structure.
*In the summer, after the steel deck is complete, installation of the cable stays connecting the pylon to the bridge deck will commence. Ultimately, the cable stays will take the weight of the bridge deck.
*Once the deck is complete and secure, final work will start on the road surface, lighting etc.
*The New Wear Crossing is due to open in spring 2018.