Sunderland's Northern Spire bridge '˜will boost city economy'
Sunderland's stunning new Northern Spire bridge will be a major boost for the Wearside economy, says city council leader Graeme Miller.
The 105metre-tall bridge will open to traffic next Wednesday - but pedestrians can get a look the day before, with the bridge deck open to the public between noon and 8pm on Tuesday.
A trio of Sunderland-built Nissan cars - including a Leaf and a Qashqai - will be the first vehicles to cross the bridge on Wednesday morning, before it is formally opened to traffic in the afternoon.
“It is a very big day,” said Coun Miller.
“It has taken just over three years, but this is a very important development that will allow people to move easily from north to south of the city and from east to west.
“It will help our economy, it will help the people of Sunderland and it will help visitors to the city. This is part of a bigger regeneration project that will make it easier to get people from the A19 into the port and the city centre and make it easier fort people to visit.
“Visitors spend £420million a year in the city at the moment and we would like that figure to increase.”
Project manager Duncan Ross Russell said handing the bridge had been ‘a really exciting project.’
“We have had 2,000 employees working on the bridge over the three years,” he said.
“It has been a challenge but one that was well planned and well executed, so we have been able to reach this point well under budget.”
Work began on Northern Spire in May 2015. During the three-year build programme, more than 2,000 people have worked on the project, clocking up more than a million work-hours. It has been built within its allocated £117m budget.
The bridge was scheduled to open in the spring this year but the poor weather during the first four months of 2018 slowed progress on site, primarily the painting of the pylon, which required very still, dry, calm conditions, both for the painting and the use of high-level platforms that were required for the team to work from.
Northern Spire, which links Pallion to the south of the River Wear with Castletown in the north, is phase two of the five-part Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor.
The next phase is a dual carriageway that will link the new bridge to St Mary’s Boulevard, going under Queen Alexandra bridge, and is expected to be complete in 2021.