The opening of Sunderland’s Northern Spire bridge will be key to the future prosperity of the city, according to a University business expert.

Professor Lawrence Bellamy from the University of Sunderland says the new structure, which is open to pedestrians from Tuesday, will play a significant role in helping boost the fortunes of the city.

Northern Spire, which is the region’s highest structure, is officially open to traffic from Wednesday, and will provide a critical transport link between the A19 and the Port of Sunderland.

Professor Bellamy, Academic Dean, Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University, said: “The Northern Spire bridge development is a critical component of infrastructure for Sunderland and the region. Linking key arterial routes is the key to efficient distribution of traffic.

“The outcome is better for commuters, who have shorter travel times or can access facilities from farther afield and businesses, which need to move people and goods around quickly and efficiently.

“Congestion can cause significant cost and contributes not only to economic losses, but also environmental impact. Linking differing modes of transport is a key challenge for a manufacturing region such as the North East, so improved transfer from the Port of Sunderland to the A19 for example is a capacity building factor for industry in the region.”

Three Sunderland-built Nissan vehicles are expected to be the first to travel across the bridge on Wednesday afternoon, following the unveiling.

The bridge is part of Sunderland City Council’s wider plans to improve the road network between the A19 and Sunderland city centre, and the Port of Sunderland.

Work began on the bridge more than three years ago, in May 2015. More than 2,000 people have worked on the project, clocking up more than a million work-hours.

The bridge, which links Pallion to the south of the River Wear with Castletown in the north, is phase two of the five-part Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor.

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