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Open date set for delayed £117M Northern Spire bridge

Sunderland New Wear Crossing preparations for cable stays

BuroHappold’s £117.6M Northern Spire bridge across the River Wear in Sunderland will open in August after the “Beast from the East” caused months of delays.

Bad winter weather had prevented finishing touches taking place to the A-frame steel and concrete pylon, which would have seen the bridge open in Spring.

At 105m high, the bridge’s central pylon is taller than the tower housing Big Ben and so the high-level platforms needed for painting were dependent on good weather.

Final painting and inspection works are now being carried out on the cable-stayed bridge, engineered by BuroHappold, which has been under construction since 2015 and is the North East’s biggest civil engineering project.

“With a project of this size and nature, there were always going to be challenges, and we knew the weather was something we could do little about,” said contractor FVB Joint Venture project director Stephen McCaffrey.

“The wind, rain and very cold temperatures were an issue for us earlier this year, but we are happy to be completing the finishing works on the deck and pylon.”

The three-span, cable-stayed bridge has a total span of 330m. The deck is supported by 28 cable stays, with 674 precast concrete road deck panels stitched together with insitu concrete, connecting them to the steel bridge deck underneath.

Offsite manufacturing methods saw the 100m-long steel pylon brought to site in one piece and raised into position.

The bridge forms the second phase of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, a dual carriageway link between the A19 and the Port of Sunderland.

Once the Northern Spire opens, a 2km stretch of road between the bridge and the city centre will be built, opening in 2021.

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