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New Wear footbridge

Purpose

Sunderland City Council has developed a masterplan to turn Riverside Sunderland into an exceptional new place to live, work and visit. The New Wear Footbridge project is a small but vital part of a £500m regeneration scheme for the banks of the River Wear and the city centre, which also includes new homes, offices and a library.

As part of the masterplan, the new bridge will provide connectivity between Sheepfolds and the city centre. The completed Riverside Sunderland Masterplan will help unlock the city’s untapped potential and help the council deliver its vision of a connected international city with opportunities for all – a dynamic, healthy and vibrant place.

What we are doing

VolkerStevin is responsible for designing and building Sunderland’s stunning ‘smart bridge’ - a £31m pedestrian and cyclist crossing, which will connect both sides of the Wear at Riverside Sunderland. The bridge will integrate cutting-edge technology, to create engaging interactive experiences for those who cross it.

We have assembled an experienced team to deliver the first stage of work including global engineering firm, Arup, specialist bridge architects, Knight Architects, and local landscape architects, Colour. The team is working collaboratively during the early contractor involvement period, combining our technical expertise and local knowledge to develop a buildable bridge design that can be delivered with certainty in line with the council’s vision.

We are using digital 3D models to develop the design and consider its integration with the surrounding areas, as well as ensuring sustainability is at the heart of the development. This includes minimising the bridge’s carbon impact and reducing any impacts on the biodiversity of the river environment, both during construction and throughout the lifetime of the bridge.

The second stage is to build the foundations and install the 250m-long steel-concrete composite structure at a height of over 30m. The bridge will have an overall width of 10m including 9.4m to be used by unsegregated pedestrian and cyclist shared traffic.

Our scope also includes installing architectural lighting, CCTV, augmented reality and remedial works to the existing retaining walls adjacent the North Pier.

Project successes

Wear Bridge was one of the first contracts to be procured through the new NEPO civil engineering and infrastructure framework. A key aspect of the framework is to ensure contractors deliver positive outcomes for the communities we serve. VolkerStevin will deliver £2.6m worth of social value commitments during the project, delivering a huge boost to people and businesses in the city. This includes a community fund to support worthy projects that improve the cultural, heritage, educational, environmental, energy and health opportunities of local residents, as well as a commitment to employ local people during construction. 

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "We're delighted to have appointed our delivery partner, VolkerStevin, to move forward with this hugely significant infrastructure project that will further connect our city. And what's more, to have secured a firm that will inject a huge sum into the local economy, as well as adding social value through a range of initiatives, means we're making every pound we spend count, and the benefit of this project will be felt even during the construction phase of the project.”

The bridge is expected to open in summer 2024. It will feature creative lighting and augmented reality, allowing people to use their smartphone to see virtual displays.

Facts and figures

  • Client:
    Sunderland City Council
  • Value:
    £31m
  • Project categories
    Regeneration
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