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Centrepiece of Sunderland's new bridge begins slow journey to North East

The pylon is slowly inched out of Victor Buyck’s fabrication yard in Ghent, Belgium. Credit: Friend Productions

The centrepiece of Sunderland’s new bridge – the impressive A-frame pylon – has begun its slow journey to the North East.

The 100m steel structure has been loaded out of the fabrication yard in Belgium this week and transported to the Port of Ghent in a carefully orchestrated operation that took several days to complete.

Victor Buyck Steel Construction, which is working with Farrans Construction to build the New Wear Crossing on behalf of Sunderland City Council, has spent the last year fabricating the pylon at its yard in Ghent.

The pylon is prepared for its slow journey to Sunderland.

Made with more than 1,000 tonnes of steel and 550 tonnes of concrete, the structure is so big that the final stages of the fabrication process had to be completed in the open air, and it had to be loaded onto two barges before it could be transported along the canal to the port.

Sarens, a world leader specialising in heavy lifting and engineered transport, is working with Farrans and Victor Buyck (FVB) to bring it to Sunderland.

The pylon travels along the canal from the Victor Buyck fabrication yard to the Port of Ghent. Credit: Friend Productions

Jim Kilcar, Bridge Supervisor for Atkins, which is supervising the New Wear Crossing project for Sunderland City Council, said the operation had gone extremely well.

“The loading out of the pylon from Victor Buyck’s fabrication yard was a major milestone and something we have been planning for a long time,” said Jim.

The pylon travels along the canal from the Victor Buyck fabrication yard to the Port of Ghent. Credit: Friend Productions

The New Wear Crossing is on track to open in spring 2018.

With dual 2-lane carriageways for vehicles and dedicated cycle and pedestrian routes, the New Wear Crossing will enhance public transport as well as significantly improve transport links to the city centre and Port of Sunderland from the A19 and A1.

It will create 2.8km of new road, connect Castletown to the north of the River Wear with Pallion to the south, and will open up land along the River Wear for regeneration and development, as well as help to create up to 6,000 new jobs and improve journey time around the city.

The pylon travels along the canal from the Victor Buyck fabrication yard to the Port of Ghent. Credit: Friend Productions

The pylon will spend the next few weeks in the Port of Ghent, where it will be transferred onto one, larger sea-going barge and then fastened down in preparation for its journey to Wearside.

Once it arrives into the Port of Sunderland in the New Year, it will undergo further preparation works before being transported along the River Wear to Pallion and then raised into position on the site of the New Wear Crossing.