Huge centrepiece of Sunderland’s new bridge has taken final position over River Wear.
The centre piece of Sunderland’s new bridge, a 100 white A-frame structure, was raised to its 90-degree resting place at about 3.30pm on Saturday. The majestic centre will be the focal point of the new Wear Crossing.
The raising of the 1550-tonne pylon was done gradually, and took 15 and a half hours, split over two days to complete during a complex and challenging operation.
The lifting of the pylon, which weighs the equivalent of 125 double decker buses, was the heaviest object to be raised in this way since the London Eye was erected in 1999.
The operation was the culmination of two years of design and planning, and 12 months of fabricating the pylon for Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction, which formed FVB joint venture to deliver the project on behalf of Sunderland City Council.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said finally seeing the pylon in place was a huge moment for him personally and the people of the city.
“You can use your imagination, and you can look at countless photographs and impressions, but nothing can really prepare you for what the centrepiece looks like over the river,” said Councillor Wilson.
“I suppose it’s a bit like watching Match of the Day and actually being in the crowd at a football game – there is no comparison and it is the same for me here today.
“Seeing the pylon raised into position, standing high above the River Wear, makes me feel very proud. It also gives us a real indication of the impact this bridge is going to have on Sunderland.
“We are on budget and on time to complete this project by the spring of 2018, and then we can really start to make sure this new bridge delivers for Sunderland.”
The new bridge will link Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south. It will significantly improve important transport links to the city centre and Port of Sunderland from the A19 and A1.
In addition to improvements to the road networks, much-needed regeneration in the area is needed.
“For a long time, a huge swathe of land along the south bank of the river was in need of regeneration and this bridge is enabling us to do that,” added Councillor Watson.
“Developers are already showing interest in regenerating this area, which will bring investment into Sunderland, create jobs and boost confidence in the city. Crucially, the new crossing will also improve links between the A19 and A1 to the city centre and the Port of Sunderland, which will be good news for businesses, residents and commuters.
“I have no doubts that this will be a bridge to a brighter future for the city.”
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for FVB Joint Venture, said the raising operation had gone very smoothly.
He said: “It’s a great day for everyone working on the project – we have been working towards this day since we broke ground 19 months ago.
“We could have built the pylon on site, from the ground up, but we chose to fabricate it in one go, off site, in a factory environment because we had better control over conditions, got a better quality of finish, and could avoid having people working at height.
“The transportation of the pylon from the fabrication yard in Belgium and the raising on site have been challenging, but we planned well and the result was a successful operation.”
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