Sunderland’s ‘phenomenal’ New Wear Crossing has taken a big step closer to completion after some of its major features were added to the structure.
Work to install 28 cable stays on the bridge is now almost finished, giving the bridge its striking look.
The bridge is still on track to open in March 2018, and council chiefs say it is also on budget.
Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for city services, Coun Michael Mordey, said: “It was a fantastic moment to see another stage of the bridge finally coming together.
“It’s starting to look like what it will look like when it’s complete, so I was really pleased to be there to watch the cables being installed.
“It’s absolutely massive for Sunderland.
The bridge is going to transform not just the city’s sky line, but also the city’s economyCoun Michael Mordey
“The bridge is going to transform not just the city’s sky line, but also the city’s economy.”
The cable stays connect the bridge deck to the pylon, and have a white protective sheath.
They are being installed and tensioned to around 50% of their working load by structural engineering company VSL International.
Although the bridge will look almost completed when the work is done, the project team will then need to carry out the road finishing works on the deck, and begin the process of installing the lighting system on both the pylon and the bridge deck.
Excitement is building as the opening date for the bridge – which crosses the River Wear between Castletown and Pallion – draws closer.
Coun Mordey added: “The bridge will lead to up to 5,000 jobs being created.
“The whole south side of the river will be opened up for regeneration, so it’s going to be absolutely fantastic for the city.
“It’s an absolutely massive project.
“You can see it from all over the city, but when you’re actually there and standing in its shadow, it’s absolutely phenomenal.
“It’s going to be an icon of Sunderland for years and years to come.
“After being involved from the design and construction stage, I couldn’t be prouder of what the guys have done.
“We’re still on track for it to be completed next spring, and on budget.”
The project started in May 2015.
Project director Stephen McCaffrey said: “The installation of the cable stays starts to give the bridge its final finished profile.
“With the cable stays coming down from the pylon to the bridge deck, it really does give it its unique profile.
“It’s looking very impressive.
“The intention of the scheme was to create a striking landmark structure for Sunderland.
“You have to bear in mind that the pylon itself is 105 metres high, so it’s between the height of Big Ben and the London Eye, so it’s going to be a very striking landmark for the city of Sunderland.”