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The 300m bridge deck is now in place across the River Wear

Bridge deck launch of Sunderland’s New Wear Crossing complete

 The bridge deck of Sunderland’s New Wear Crossing has been successfully launched across the river.

The operation to manoeuvre the 300m deck from the south side of the River Wear to the north side was completed at about 5.10pm today (Tuesday).

It took a total of 20 hours to slide the 4,750-tonne concrete and steel structure into its final position over the River Wear between Pallion to the south and Castletown to the north.

It was a seamless operation that began at about 2.30pm on Sunday and continued in stages through daylight hours, finishing late afternoon today.

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said he was delighted to see the New Wear Crossing take another leap forward.

“With every milestone that we pass, Sunderland’s new bridge comes to life a little bit more and now the bridge deck is fully in position we can appreciate the scale of this magnificent structure,” said Cllr Watson.

“The bridge is going to be impressive, there is no doubt about that, but it is also going to be the catalyst for change in the city.

“Crucially, it will enable a huge area of land along the south side of the river to be regenerated and developed for a range of uses, including housing, leisure, retail, business and education. It will help attract investment into the city, create jobs and breathe new life into this old industrial area of the riverbank that has become derelict over time. The potential is immense.”

The project to build the New Wear Crossing got underway in May 2015. Farrans Construction and Victor Buck Steel Construction formed a partnership to create FVB Joint Venture to deliver the bridge on behalf of Sunderland City Council.

It is phase two of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, which is a five-phase plan to improve links between the A19 and Sunderland City Centre and the Port of Sunderland.

Since construction got underway, much of the work has centred on building the cofferdam and pylon foundations within the riverbed, constructing the approach roads on the north and south sides of the River Wear, and assembling the bridge deck.

Roadworks have also been carried out in Pallion and Castletown to connect into the existing road network ahead of the bridge opening in the spring of 2018.

In recent months, work has stepped up on the north side, where the northern approach road and abutment are being constructed and the new alignment of Hylton Park Road is being developed.

Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for FVB Joint Venture, said: “The bridge deck launch went very well.

“It was a substantial structure to move across the river, so it was a very slow and steady operation. The positioning of the deck throughout was crucial as it had to be navigated through the middle of the pylon and then onto each of the temporary supports built in the river to support it.

“We had a team of people guiding it across and scrutinising its progress, as it was planned to the millimetre, but it went as expected, so we are very happy.”

The temporary blue steel nose will be removed from the deck over the coming weeks and the remaining 40m section of bridge deck will be built in-situ on the north side during the summer months.

Scaffolding attached to the top of the pylon will enable the cable stays to be fitted, which will be attached to the deck and gradually stressed to take the weight of the bridge later this year. After that, the blue steel temporary towers supporting the deck will be removed and the final touches, such as lighting, road markings and safety features, will be added

Simon Fryer, a Technical Director of Buro Happold Engineering, who led the team that designed the bridge deck, said he was delighted to see the deck finally in place.

He said: “It’s been three years since we started working on the project, so it’s amazing to see our designs on paper come to life across the River Wear.

“It’s going to be an impressive structure – we are very proud to be involved.”

Rob Webster, a General Operative from the Ford Estate in Sunderland, who has been working on the New Wear Crossing site for 18 months, said: “It’s exciting working on the project and it’s great to see the bridge deck out across the river.

“This bridge will do great things for Sunderland.”