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The Northern Spire Bridge is a bridge over the River Wear in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear. The crossing opened on 28 August 2018. A three-span cable-stayed structure, construction began in May 2015, overseen by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction.
A crossing had been proposed as early as 2005, however financial uncertainties caused significant delay until funding was approved by HM Treasury. Originally an ambitious design was selected, but was later dropped after several contractors withdrew. In 2014, the project switched to a cheaper cable-stayed design.
The bridge has been constructed to the west side of the city over the River Wear, with the purpose of reducing traffic congestion. It was designed by Spence Associates in partnership with structural engineering firm Techniker. The bridge was first designed in 2005, but it was kept confidential for several years by the City Council to avoid a rise in expectations until funding was secured. The council was also considering plans for a cheaper, basic beam bridge design. The cost of the Spence design was estimated at £133 million for the bridge and the associated approaches and roadworks.
On 26 May 2010 Sunderland City Council approved the planning application and the project appeared ready to go ahead. However, by July 2013 construction still had not begun, due to difficulty in producing the design at the approved funding level; several contractors withdrew from the project. This led to a reassessment of the design, which dropped the Spence plan in favour of a simpler cable-stayed design.
Roughan & O’Donovan and Buro Happold delivered the preliminary and detailed design of the bridge. On 10–11 February 2017, the central pylon was installed which stands at a height of 105 m (344 ft), making it the tallest structure in Sunderland. The raising of the bridge pylon marked the culmination of two years of design and planning and twelve months of fabricating.
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