Northern Spire

Northern Spire is a landmark new road bridge and central to Sunderland City Council’s vision of connecting communities and creating opportunities for major development and growth. It is a core part of Sunderland’s new Strategic Transport Corridor.

The cable-stayed bridge features a 105m central A-frame pylon, and bridge deck which spans a total of 346m. 3km of major alterations to the surrounding road network were also required to connect the new bridge to the existing highways.

It has opened up land along the banks of the River Wear for future investment and regeneration, helping to create up to 6,000 jobs along the riverside corridor and boosting the local and regional economy.

Forecast to take up to 27,000 vehicles per day at its peak, it will also reduce congestion around the city, improving journey times.

The innovative construction method used has achieved a striking, high-quality bridge and provided substantial benefits in cost, programme and sustainability. A diverse international project team came together to work collaboratively towards shared goals. Faithful+Gould was integral to that team, providing project, cost, contract, programme, risk and stakeholder management services, as well as project controls.

Key Challenges & Solutions

A major complex project such as this requires a multitude of teams with various skillsets and expertise. This resulted in a supply chain made up of both local and international teams carrying out activities both on site, nationally and abroad. The close relationship and collaborative attitudes of those teams, all helping to bring the variety of components together, has been a key factor in the success of the project.

Added Value & Benefits

A continuous review of buildability and value engineering options was employed throughout all stages of the project, identifying the most cost effective and efficient design and construction solutions. An example of this during the construction phase was the collaborative approach used to value engineer the design of several significant highways structures, reducing the outturn cost significantly.


The bridge deck was assembled in two parts on site in Sunderland, allowing the construction team to maximise use of the small assembly area available. Both sections were ‘launched’ across the river to create the 330m deck. The work was akin to threading a needle, as the deck was inched accurately through the pylon to reach the north bank.

The high-profile project has helped to capture the imaginations of the local community; raising the profile of construction and inspiring future generations:

  • 2,275 children attending the site to learn about the project and the skills and professions involved in it.
  • Delivered employability skills training to 91 people at Springboard/Sunderland College.
  • Provided work experience for 77 STEM students from Sunderland College.
  • Over 10,300 votes cast to name the new bridge.

Sunderland’s new bridge is the culmination of hard work, determination and collaboration. A striking and important landmark, the Northern Spire is a key economic driver for future investment in the city. It is a bridge to a better future for Sunderland.

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