Opening of Sunderland’s Northern Spire Bridge could be ‘invite only’ event

The Northern Spire bridge
The Northern Spire bridge
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An event marking the opening of Sunderland’s Northern Spire Bridge could limit public attendance with an “invite only”policy, a meeting has heard.

The new bridge across the River Wear – which boasts a 105-metre central A-frame pylon –  is set to open to traffic this summer, with finishing works under way.

It was hoped that the cable-stayed bridge would have been completed by May/June but cold,wet and windy weather up to end of April caused delays to works.

This week, city councillors heard an update from Sunderland City Council’s head of infrastructure and transportation, Mark Jackson, at Sunderland Civic Centre.

Speaking at the council’s Economic Prosperity Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, he said “final touches” to the bridge were taking place, including weather-dependant painting works.

Once painting is finished, he explained, the bridge will face an inspection before opening to traffic with two-weeks notice needed for the final opening date.

In response to a question from Coun Doris Turner, the council boss said a public event would be organised before the bridge is opened to traffic.

Although several options are being discussed by the project board, the committee heard, a preferred option would only allow a limited amount of residents to attend.

“We don’t want thousands and thousands of people turning up in an uncontrolled manner,” Mr Jackson said.

“The most likely option would be an invite only event with some members of the public turning up.”

The Northern Spire is the first bridge to be built over the River Wear in more than 40 years and will link Castletown to the north of the river with Pallion in the south.

It’s also part of a wider plan to improve the road network between the A19 and Port of Sunderland and Sunderland City Centre with an aim of reducing congestion and attracting investment.

Details of a final opening date and launch event are yet to be announced by Sunderland City Council.

In response to Coun Michael Dixon’s question about the bridge’s budget, the council officer also reassured the committee about current costings.

“The project isn’t finished but at this time, it’s under budget, we don’t envisage that changing,” Mr Jackson added.

A breakdown of the project’s budget is expected to return to the scrutiny committee in future.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service