Sunderland’s new bridge over the River Wear is set to open next month.
Finishing works on the cable-stayed Northern Spire, which features a 105m tall central pylon, are due to round off in the coming weeks.
The £117.6m structure was supposed to complete in Spring 2018, but inclement weather at the start of the year slowed progress on its development.
According to Sunderland City Council, the team building the structure has ramped up efforts in recent weeks, taking advantage of the good weather.
The last of the paint is now being applied to the pylon ahead of the final inspections.
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “We appreciate that people are very eager to see Northern Spire complete and are curious as to when it will open to the public. We, too, are excited to see it in use.
“The only substantive works remaining are painting and inspecting, so we are counting down to opening day.”
He continued: “Of course, painting at height using high-level platforms dictates the speed at which the painting can happen and this is still sensitive to weather conditions, but we hope the good weather continues so that we can get these final works and the appropriate final inspections completed.
“While we all want to see Northern Spire in use as soon as possible, it’s important that we don’t compromise the finish by rushing to open. This project is far too important for that.”
Northern Spire will be the first bridge built across the Wear in the city for over 40 years.
Once open, it will link Castletown to the north with Pallion in the south. It forms part of a wider plan to improve road infrastructure between the A19, the Port of Sunderland and the city centre.
The council believes Northern Spire will cut congestion and journey times around the city, draw investment and enable the regeneration of land along the river.
It is due to open to traffic by the end of August.
Sunderland City Council’s head of infrastructure and transport, Mark Jackson, commented: “We understand that people want to see Northern Spire open, and so do we, but we always said it would be a three-year project and it has been.
“Unfortunately, the weather was a big issue for us earlier this year and FVB, the main contractor, hasn’t been able to complete the painting in the time that we had all planned for.”
He added: “Whilst there are some minor works required before the bridge can open, such as cleaning the deck and commissioning the traffic lights, which will only take a few days, we are now purely painting and inspecting the pylon. The pylon is obviously a big structure, so it’s taking quite a bit of time, but we would rather give it the time it needs, while it’s fully closed.”
Funding for Northern Spire was jointly provided by the Government (£82.5m) and Sunderland City Council (£35.1m).
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