The majestic bridge across the River Wear, with its 105m central A-frame pylon, is being unveiled with three Sunderland-built Nissan vehicles, including the record-breaking Qashqai and 100% electric LEAF, being the first to cross the landmark bridge.
Faithful+Gould, part of SNC-Lavalin’s Engineering, Design and Project Management business, has been integral to the new bridge’s development, delivering project management, cost management and health and safety services throughout the flagship scheme.
Duncan Ross Russell, Faithful+Gould’s project management lead for the bridge, said: “It’s an exciting time for everyone involved with Northern Spire. Bringing together the skills and expertise to deliver a major construction project like this is an enormous task. We are fortunate that we have had some very talented people working on this project, and it is those people who have made it a success. It’s a huge moment for us and we feel incredibly proud.”
Work began on Northern Spire in May 2015. During the three-year build programme, more than 2,000 people have worked on the project, clocking up more than a million work-hours. It has been built within its allocated £117m budget.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Cllr Graeme Miller, said: “I am delighted that Northern Spire is opening to traffic. It looks stunning and is a great addition to the Sunderland skyline.
“It’s a proud moment for Sunderland. This bridge is a wonderful structure that firmly puts us on the map.”
During the past few weeks the team has worked hard to maximise the recent spell of good weather to complete the painting of the centrepiece, which, as the highest structure in the North East, is twice the height of Nelson’s Column and bigger than Big Ben’s clock tower.
Sunderland City Council’s Head of Infrastructure and Transportation, Mark Jackson, said the bridge would have a lasting impact on the city: “Not only does Northern Spire look impressive, but it will bring enormous benefits to the city, not least in making it easier and quicker for people to travel around Sunderland.
“It will reduce congestion and travel time and will also open up huge areas of land along the River Wear for regeneration, whilst also attracting investment, boosting the economy and leading to more jobs.
“Northern Spire is a significant part of the future plans for Sunderland. The city is open for business and is looking towards a bright future.”
The new bridge and road improvement programme is phase two of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, which is a five-phase plan to improve links between the A19 and Sunderland City Centre and the Port of Sunderland.
Ewan Peacock, Associate Director at Faithful+Gould and commercial lead for the project, said: “Sunderland’s new bridge is the culmination of hard work, determination and collaboration. 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.”