The Northern Spire Bridge - new Wear crossing

The 105m central pylon of Northern Spire bridge. Image: Sunderland City Council

The 105m central pylon of Northern Spire bridge. Image: Sunderland City Council


John Armitage. Ramboll

John Armitage

Technical Director, Bridges
M: +44 7946 484 652
Lucy Chadwick. Ramboll

Lucy Chadwick

Head of Department, UK
T: +44 7870 810 056

Services we provided

With its gleaming white A-frame focal point, the iconic Northern Spire cable stay bridge is a vital new transport link that is key to regeneration plans in Sunderland. The bridge improves critical transport capacity, allows for expansion of the Port and provides access to key development sites along the river. Ramboll was appointed to carry out Category 3 checking of the permanent works.


With a maximum span of 148m, the £117.6 million cable-stayed bridge crosses the River Wear between Castletown on the north to Pallion on the south bank.

The architectural design includes a curved steel A-Frame pylon approximately 105m high making the bridge's 'spire' taller than Big Ben and twice the height of Nelson's Column in London. The final overall span of 330m comprises two lanes of traffic in each direction with dedicated cycle-ways and footpaths along the full length of the crossing.

Ramboll Involvement - Independent Category 3 Check

Ramboll was appointed by FVB Joint Venture – formed from Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction - to carry out Category 3 checking of the permanent works.

The scope for checking included a steel pylon, composite ladder deck, abutments, piers and foundations. Further checks to be carried out by Ramboll involved precast concrete panels and in situ stitches that form part of the composite deck, the construction sequence for the pylon and incrementally launched deck, and finally a check of the aerodynamic behaviour under wind loading.

In 2017 The pylon was floated into position and then rotated to vertical. The deck was been incrementally launched and supported by 28 cable stays. However before the cables could be installed, 674 precast concrete road deck panels were joined together by pouring concrete between them, connecting them to the steel bridge deck underneath. 

Regeneration and transport links

As the first major road bridge to be built in Sunderland in over 40 years, the Northern Spire is set to help regenerate the area by relieving congestion in the area, with quicker and more reliable journeys, and by attracting new jobs and investment. The crossing improves vital road transport links connecting the Port of Sunderland and Sunderland city centre with the A19, the developing IAMP Enterprise Zone and the wider Tyne and Wear city-region.

The new crossing opens up the Metro network to thousands of people who live, work and play on the north side of the River Wear, generating employment and leisure opportunities right across the region.


240 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NW
United Kingdom
Tel:+44 20 7631 5291

Company registration

Company registration

Ramboll UK Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company registration no. 03659970. Registered office: 240 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NW

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