STEELWORK CONTRACTOR Cleveland Bridge was this week awarded the £115M contract to build what is claimed to be the first new suspension bridge in the US for over 40 years.
Construction of the 1km long, three span Carquinez suspension bridge across San Francisco's Oakland Bay helps secure the future of the troubled Darlington-based firm since being set free from parent Kvaerner. A near empty order book nine months ago is now nearing capacity.
The Carquinez Bridge, with a 728m main span plus over 1km of approach road, was won by Cleveland Bridge in joint venture with local contractor Flatiron Structures.
The 12,700t of steel for the new road crossing will be fabricated by Cleveland Bridge's permanent new Chinese partner Jintai on the banks of the Yangtse river and shipped direct to California across the Pacific in 48m long deck sections.
Fabrication is due to start in the autumn with first deck sections erected a year later. Overall completion is scheduled for 2004.
'We are delighted to have broken into this difficult US market which we see as a major growth area,' said Cleveland boss Tony Rae. 'North America has a £370bn, 10 year budget for road building and repairs including over 200,000 structures needing retrofit work.'
The client, Californian transport authority Caltrans, is also moving ahead with plans for another major new bridge over Oakland Bay - an innovative £850M asymmetric single tower suspension bridge which will form part of the nearby eastern crossing. This is still out to tender but award is expected later this year.
This 3.5km crossing will replace an adjacent 64 year old bridge and causeway damaged in the 1989 San Francisco earthquake (NCE 2 July 1989).