Following completion of the cofferdam, the foundations for the bridge's A-frame pylon - which is the 105 metre centrepiece of the crossing - are progressing well within the River Wear, and the fabricated steelwork sections and concrete panels for the bridge deck are now being delivered to site.
In total, some 855 concrete panels will be used, each up to 4 metres x 4 metres in size and varying in weight from five to 18 tonnes. The bridge deck, weighing 1950 tonnes, is now being assembled on site and will be launched across the river (supported by temporary platforms) in September in preparation for the arrival of the 1100-tonne pylon at the end of the year.
"Once we successfully get the pylon erected, we will be one step closer to providing the city with the critical transport links it needs for its ongoing economic regeneration."
Kristian Haagensen, Faithful+Gould Senior Project Manager
Faithful+Gould, which has been working on the project since the development stages, is providing project management, cost management and health and safety services to the flagship scheme.
Senior Project Manager at Faithful+Gould and client project lead for the New Wear Crossing, Kristian Haagensen, said: "We are moving into a really exciting phase of the bridge-building programme now as work is progressing well within the river and as we start to construct the main pylon foundations. Once we successfully get the pylon erected, we will be one step closer to providing the city with the critical transport links it needs for its ongoing economic regeneration. The new bridge will connect communities and create opportunities for major new development and growth."
A fly-through animation, showing the layout of the new bridge and approach roads and how they will link in to the current road network in Sunderland, shows the scale of the project.
The new crossing will be a cable-stayed bridge linking the city across the River Wear. On track to open in the spring of 2018, the impressive pylon structure will be twice as high as Nelson's Column and taller than Big Ben.
Ewan Peacock, Associate Director at Faithful+Gould and commercial lead for the project, said: "We're delighted to be involved in creating such a striking and important landmark for Sunderland, and when linked with the wider improvements planned for the road network, the New Wear Crossing will be a key economic driver for future investment in the city. We firmly believe it will be a bridge to a better future."
The project is part of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC), a five-phase highway improvement plan, which aims to improve links between Sunderland city centre and the Port of Sunderland with the A19. The new bridge and associated road improvement scheme is phase two of the SSTC. Sunderland City Council has just finished public consultation on phase three of the scheme, which will link European Way in Pallion to St Mary's Boulevard in the city.