Interesting to see, as the New Wear Crossing construction project moves into its final months, how the landscape is visually changing and the impact the new bridge is making. Before work began at this site, the area had no real points of interest apart from the wreck of a concrete boat called the ‘Cretehauser’ (yes, that’s right, a boat made of concrete!) and a geological feature called Claxheugh Rock.
In January 2016, on a rather grey overcast day, I took a photograph looking upstream from an old board walk. I wouldn’t have normally thought the view worth capturing, but I took it so that I could come back and take another shot from the same spot after the new bridge was built. Not long after that first photograph was taken, a dredger arrived and began removing material from the bed of the river where the foundations for the bridge’s central support pylon would eventually be sited.
It is interesting now, to re-visit and see just how this empty space has been taken over and filled with the New Wear Crossing construction. The visual dynamics of the area have changed dramatically as the new bridge has steadily taken shape.
After the central support pylon was raised, people began to appreciate the scale of the construction. The structure of the New Wear Crossing now had height as well as width and it could now be seen by anyone upstream passing across the A19 Hylton Bridge.
After the bridge’s remaining suspension cables are attached and tensioned between the road deck and central pylon, the temporary bridge supports (painted blue) will be removed. The original design had a central pylon that had a more curvaceous twist to it, but spiraling costs and other considerations meant going for a simpler design. Having said that, nearly everyone I’ve met when I’ve been photographing the construction project has given it the thumbs up. Visually, it’s making a big statement, in every sense, both upon the immediate area and for the city as a whole. Hopefully, it’s also going to become a visual metaphor for the future development and prosperity of Wearside.