World-renowned bridge designer Michel Virlogeux has added his criticism to the controversial New Wear Crossing in Sunderland, revealing that he dislikes it so much that he turned down an approach to check the design.
Speaking to NCE ahead of a lecture on the future of long-span cable stayed bridges in Vladivostok, Millau Viaduct designer Virlogeux said that the £118M bridge with its 180m and 140m tall bullhorn-shaped curved pylons was “too much”.
“I think you can make bridges elegant without going crazy,” he said. “I am aware of that bridge, and I think, no.”
Virlogeux added that he even turned down the chance to act as design checker on the project when he was approached by consultant Pell Frischmann to join its bid for checking the work.
“Pell Frischmann’s London office approached me to do third party checks but I was uncomfortable doing checks on such a bridge,” he said.
Mott MacDonald was ultimately chosen by client Sunderland City Council to act as the Category III design checker.
Virlogeux’s criticism comes two months after eminent bridge designer Simon Bourne slammed the bridge as a “gross misuse of public money” and wrote to transport secretary Justine Greening urging her to withdraw government funding.
Sunderland City Council says the new bridge forms a key phase of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor - designed to open up more riverside land for regeneration. As such, an iconic bridge is deemed appropriate. But this comes at a cost, with the council paying £21M more than a simple box girder option.
Virlogeux: I rejected role for New Wear Crossing