Digging it in Sunderland
More than 60,000 tonnes of earth, rock and old concrete materials have been excavated for sections of a new Sunderland dual carriageway.
The road, which will improve community connections, is part of the £1.5bn package of city-wide public and private sector investment projects that Sunderland has planned over the next five years.
This third phase of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC 3) begins at the southern end of the Northern Spire (SSTC 2). The dual carriageway's route is through Pallion, then underneath the Queen Alexandra Bridge, into Deptford and onto the city centre and St Mary's Boulevard (SSTC 1).
Its design takes into account the land’s former use, its geology and gradients. It includes the construction of 1.2 miles (2kms) of retaining walls and structures that will be nearly 40ft (12 metres) high.
The £35m scheme is being delivered for Sunderland City Council by local civil engineering specialists Esh Civils, the civil engineering division of Esh Construction.
Major earth removal and excavation works began in June close to Pallion Engineering Ltd using heavy construction plant. The 60,000 cubic tonnes of materials - rocks, stones and old concrete from buried structures and buildings - have been separated and processed on site by a crusher hopper. They can be reused as engineering fill for the foundations and landscape around the new carriageway.
Councillor Amy Wilson, the City Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport and a ward member for Pallion, has just toured the site. She said it was 'amazing' to see all the progress so far.
She said: "There's a lot going on with all these ground and excavation works. It's already amazing to see these big and deep excavations that are many feet deep and hundreds of feet long.
"As the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, I'm very pleased to see so much of what has been excavated is being recycled and processed into new construction materials. There is an amazing amount of work going on behind the scenes for this investment in our city.
"As a council, we've always said how important it is continue investing in our city's infrastructure so that we keep people and goods and services moving freely and conveniently. The dual carriageway here is a key part of that investment as we look to the future. There's some very big works here for a very big project."
In coming weeks, as the excavations are complete, a series of piling works will begin for the foundations of the new retaining wall that is being built into the bankside of Pallion New Road.
Andrew Georgeson, Operations Director Esh Civils, said: "The site team have reached a milestone in segregating and processing such large quantities of buried structures and buildings which, with careful planning and thought, can now be reused as engineering fill for the project.
"We have a strong sustainable model for delivering this major project. All the processing work reinforces this approach by reducing our environmental impact and increasing our local specialist supply chain to assist in our success.
"We are now seeing more phases progressing and our community engagement also increasing. I’m delighted with the team’s performance and the commitments held by Esh Civils and our client Sunderland City Council."
Ken Heads, the City Council’s Infrastructure and Commercial Manager and SSTC3 Project Director said: "The council is working closely with Esh Civils to reduce waste and recycle as much material as possible in these major works.
"By reprocessing methods Esh Civils are generating more engineering material than initially expected and its good to see site won material being used in the works.
"The change to this area in these early stages of the project are astonishing and we are all looking forward to seeing more works in the coming months."
Closer to the city centre, traffic management is in place along Trimdon St and at Hylton Roundabout allowing works to progress for service diversions and alignment of the proposed carriageway.
The Northern Spire over the Wear opened a year ago and the new route into central Sunderland opens up more development opportunities as well as improving city connectivity.
It will take up to 27 months to complete the phase 3 works with a target opening of Autumn 2021.
The SSTC programme is in five phases. These are:
Phase 1 - St Mary's Boulevard in the city centre (completed)
Phase 2 - Northern Spire and approach roads (completed)
Phase 3 - City centre and dual carriageway links (underway)
Phase 4 - Wessington Way improvements between the A19 and the Northern Spire
Phase 5 - St Mary's Boulevard to the Port of Sunderland.