Major milestone reached in New Wear Crossing project

Work on Sunderland's New Wear Crossing has taken a huge step forward with the launch of the bridge deck across the river.

The first section of bridge deck is being pulled 120 metres across the Wear from the embankment in Pallion.

The project is expected to take about ten hours to complete.

Hydraulic jacks are being used to slowly manoeuvre the steel frame, pulling the deck between 10 metres and 15 metres per hour. On completion, the first section of deck will come to rest a third of the way across the river.

Once the 105-metre high A-frame pylon, which is the main centrepiece of the bridge, arrives on site this winter the extended bridge deck will be pulled into position across the width of the Wear.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, councillor Paul Watson, said: "Our new bridge is taking shape well now and it's very exciting to see the construction team launching the bridge deck across the River Wear.

"The New Wear Crossing will help improve traffic flow across the city from the A19 through to the city centre and the Port of Sunderland, and create huge opportunities for regeneration and investment along the river bank, so it's great news for the North East that it's progressing well."

Stephen McCaffrey, project director of the FVB joint venture, formed by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction, added: "I'd like to thank the whole team for their hard work and commitment today and over the past few weeks, which has ensured this complex process has gone smoothly.

"Pulling a 2,500 tonne section of bridge out over the middle of the river is not easy and takes a lot of engineering and preparation.

"We have a variety of UK and international experts working on the project who are bringing together their skills to make sure everything goes ahead as planned."

The New Wear Crossing is the first bridge to be built over the river for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.