The impressive centrepiece to Sunderland’s new bridge has left Belgium and is making its way to the city.
The A-frame pylon, which will stand 105m above the River Wear, left the Port of Ghent at 12.10pm today (Thursday) and is expected to arrive into Sunderland in two days’ time.
If sea conditions remain calm, as at present, Louis, the barge carrying the pylon, is expected to arrive in the north east late Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.
People can follow its progress by going to www.marinetraffic.com and searching for the progress of tug boat En Avant 10, which is towing the barge across the North Sea. Alternatively, people can follow Sunderland City Council on Facebook or Twitter @SunderlandUK, which will be updated regularly with the pylon’s progress.
As the pylon approaches Wearside, it will be met by harbour tug boats from the North East about a mile off the port entrance and will then be brought in through the curved arms of the Roker and New South piers, before berthing at Greenwells Quay.
The pylon will form the centrepiece of the New Wear Crossing, which is on track to open in the spring of 2018. It will help attract investment into Sunderland, create new jobs and regenerate land along the River Wear.
Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson, said: “The pylon is an impressive structure and is really the focal point of Sunderland’s New Wear Crossing project, so it’s exciting to know that it’s arriving in just a couple of days. I can’t wait to see it come through the piers into port.
“I think people will be surprised at how striking the pylon is. People might like to take the opportunity to come out and watch as it arrives, or to have a look while it’s in port. You won’t be disappointed.”
The new bridge will link Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south, and will have dual two-lane carriageways for vehicles, as well as dedicated cycle and pedestrian routes.
It will enhance public transport, as well as significantly improve the important transport links to the city centre and Port of Sunderland from the A19 and A1.
The bridge is being built on behalf of Sunderland City Council by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction, known as FVB Joint Venture. The transportation of the pylon is being carried out by Sarens, a world leader in heavy lifting and engineered transport.
Matthew Hunt, Port Director at the Port of Sunderland, said his team was ready for the pylon’s arrival.
“We have been working closely with Sarens and the FVB team during the past 18 months on the construction of the new bridge, and to make sure everything is in place for the arrival of the pylon,” said Matthew.
“From what I have seen, it’s an impressive structure, and is quite a size, so I think we are all quite excited to actually see it come into port.
“The pylon will be berthed here for a few weeks, where it will be prepared for its journey up the River Wear to site in a few weeks’ time.
“If people want to see it, I would advise that they go to the roof of the National Glass Centre as you get a great view of the port from there. I think it will be a sight to behold.”