Bridges in Sunderland are in such dire need of structural repair that Sunderland City Council quickly approved plans to invest £1 million on updating them.
A report has been prepared for the local authority that highlights its legal duty to maintain the A182, saying it would be a danger to commuters if they remained untouched, reported the Sunderland Echo.
Not carrying out the necessary work would result in “the condition of the bridges [deteriorating], leading to increased cost of future repair and increased safety risk to the public”.
In order for the structures to be made safe again, two road bridges at Princess Anne Interchange at the junction with the A195 require re-waterproofing, as well as having steel beams replaced and concrete repairs.
The Bonemill Lane Interchange Bridge’s steel beams also need a new paint job, while there are also works pencilled in for the two footbridges and subway north of Bonemill Lane.
While the coronavirus pandemic has been taking place, local authority members have been unable to meet to discuss planning applications. However, the city council’s cabinet has started to meet virtually to enable work to continue.
Its latest meeting, which was held last Friday (June 12th) was broadcast live on YouTube to allow staff to adhere to social distancing guidelines. At the event, senior councillors approved the initiative, while they also agreed to begin the process of appointing a contractor for the works.
Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy council leader with responsibility for environment and transport, confirmed the project is expected to begin between January and March 2021.
The local authority will find funds to pay for the upgrade through its Bridge Maintenance Investment Programme within the current capital programme.
This work will be phase two of improvement work on key Sunderland structures after a programme of upgrades began in 2018. The first phase included re-waterproofing the bridge decks and replacement parapets for Pattison Road/Nissan Way over the A1231 Sunderland Highway and the Low Barmston Access Bridge.
Head of children, learning and skills Councillor Louise Farthing said: “I think it gives me comfort as a resident of Washington and I’m sure for people in Sunderland who travel to Washington, that bridges are maintained regularly.”
She added: “It was about a year ago when a bridge collapsed in Italy and it was devastating to see that. We need to publicise the fact that we do carry out regular maintenance, so residents have that assurance that they’re safe.”
Last July, the council approved a further £1.8 million of improvement works, which included re-painting steel beams and concrete repairs to the Nissan Interchange Bridge as well as further upgrades to other structures.
Council leader Graeme Miller stated: “It’s millions of pounds of investment in the transport infrastructure that Washington residents need and use every day.”
“I hope it puts a sword to the lie that goes out from our political opponents about how money is only spent in Sunderland,” the councillor noted.
“We tend to forget that Sunderland includes the areas of Sunderland, Washington and Houghton / Hetton,” he added.
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