Centrepiece of Sunderland’s new bridge transported to final location in middle of River Wear.
The centrepiece of Sunderland’s new bridge, a 100m pylon, is now at its final location, after being transported onto the construction site in the middle of the River Wear.
The structure left Greenwells Quay at the Port of Sunderland at about 5am today and arrived on site at 7am, taking just 2 hours for the white structure to be transported by the barge, Louis, to make her way along the three mile stretch of the River Wear.
The new bridge is being constructed at a site between Pallion and Castletown in the city.
She travelled under the Wearmouth Bridge, passed the Stadium of Light – home of Sunderland AFC – before negotiating the tight corner at Deptford Bend, and finally moving under the Queen Alexandra Bridge, before making her way to site.
Cllr Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It’s great to see the pylon now in its final location on the River Wear. A lot of hard work and planning has gone into building the pylon, and getting it to site, and I think we can now begin to imagine just how impressive it will look when it’s raised into position.
“I appreciate that some people may be disappointed that they were unable to watch it being transported up the river, but given that it would have meant people congregating during the early hours in the dark, along the riverbank, the team took the decision not to publicise it in the interest of reducing health and safety risks to the public. That was the right decision and was something that could not be avoided.
“The operation to raise the pylon will be a long process, but much of it will be carried out in daylight hours, so people will definitely have an opportunity to come out and watch then.”
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for Farrans Victor Buyck Joint Venture (FVB), which is delivering the project on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said the transportation of the pylon to site had gone extremely well.
He said: “A lot of work has been carried out on site during the last 18 months in preparation for the arrival on site of the A-frame pylon, so it’s great to get it here and focus on the next phases of the project.
“We needed to transport the pylon during a specific tidal window and unfortunately that meant taking it up the river during the early hours. However, there will be plenty of opportunities for people to see the pylon on site in the weeks and months ahead – particularly when it is raised into place in a few weeks’ time.
“Nothing of this scale has been lifted in this way in the UK since the London Eye was raised in 1999, and it will be quite something to watch, so we will definitely be telling people when that is happening.”
The next steps will lead to the pylon rotated 90 degrees in the river and final engineering works carried out to connect the legs of the pylon with the giant concrete tusks that are fixed into the riverbed inside the cofferdam, which will support the A-frame in its final position.
Sarens, a world leader in heavy lifting and engineered transport, are transporting and raising the pylon.
The new bridge will link Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south, and will have dual two-lane carriageways for vehicles, as well as dedicated cycle and pedestrian routes.
The bridge is due to open in the spring 2018.
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