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New ‘smart bridge’ over River Wear to encourage walking and cycling in Sunderland

The pedestrian and cycling bridge, which is scheduled for completion in 2024, will include cutting-edge technological features such as augmented reality

Design and engineering firm Arup will lead the design of a new £31 million cycling and pedestrian ‘smart bridge’ crossing the River Wear in Sunderland.

Arup will work alongside construction company VolkerStevin to deliver the bridge by 2024, as part of Sunderland City Council’s ambition to increase walking and cycling in and around Riverside Park, a new sustainable regeneration project in the city’s industrial area.

The bridge will provide connectivity between Sheepfolds and the city centre, completing the Keel Line connection between Keel Square and the Stadium of Light, the home of Sunderland FC, university facilities and residential communities north of the river.

The Keel Line forms part of Sunderland City Council’s attempt to encourage walking and cycling in and across the city through the creation of fully accessible paths and cycle routes.

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Using 3D modelling, the bridge will be designed and built with the aim of minimising its carbon footprint and impact on local biodiversity, during and after the construction process.

As a so-called ‘smart bridge’, it will feature interactive experiences for walkers and cyclists as they cross, including augmented reality displays. The design will also implement creative lighting to illuminate the green spaces below.

Rachel Hurdman, Arup’s project manager, said: “This is an important project for the local area and an exemplar of sustainable, people-focused design. Our design and engineering experts will be leading the design process with cutting-edge design and engineering to provide a new strategic link for the people of Sunderland.”

In October and November 2021, Sunderland City Council held a consultation on its new Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). The LCWIP aims to improve active travel opportunities in Sunderland by a creating a new network of cycling and walking routes, as part of the government’s aim to double cycling journeys in the UK by 2025.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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