PRIMARY school pupils are getting hands-on experience of a major city highways project.
Nearly 200 children from Sunderland’s Dame Dorothy Primary School have now visited the City Council’s Northern Gateway project.
Works on the gateway began in February this year and they are taking a summer break during July’s Tall ShipsRaces and the 30th Sunderland Airshow. The works will then resume and are due for completion later this year.
The gateway is about North Bridge Street and Dame Dorothy Street becoming two-way for all traffic and improving access in and out of the city centre.
Pupils at Dame Dorothy, which is in Dock Street and close to the project, have been visiting the sites near their school and at North Bridge Street.
Today (Monday 11 June) they were joined by Councillor Debra Waller, the City Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment and Transportation, and Councillor Barry Curran, a St Peter’s ward member and Dame Dorothy School Governor.
Cllr Waller said: “As a council we’re committed to improving and investing in our city’s highways network. By improving our city’s built environment and its transport connections we attract more investment and we improve links in and across our community.
“The Northern Gateway is very much part of this commitment to improvements. Work is progressing well, it’s been fun meeting the pupils and they’ve all been very interested in hearing and seeing more about the project.”
At school and site visits, council highways engineers have explained construction techniques and the project’s programme of works.
The programme for this week includes demolition and infilling of the Church Street North subway with foam concrete. Plus, continuing the improvements to North Bridge Street with new paving and road widening.
Cllr Curran said: “As a St Peter’s ward councillor and as a school governor, I know there’s been a lot of interest in the project.
“This is a major investment by the council to help improve our city’s highways network. The pupils have been fascinated to hear more about the construction work and seeing how it’s all being completed.
“The pupils are going to be using the Northern Gateway in the future so they’re going to have very strong memories of what they saw during the works and all the changes.”
The subway will be filled with a total of 500m³ of foam concrete – the equivalent volume of 1.5 million mugs of coffee. Foam concrete is a lightweight version of traditional concrete used in construction and is well suited to filling voids such as redundant subways.
Iain Williamson, Headteacher at Dame Dorothy Primary School, said: “Pupils are always very keen to know what is going in the world around them, especially as the highways environment near the school is changing with these works.
“We’ve had good feedback from teachers, all the pupils and everybody has gained an insight and a better understanding of engineering and construction techniques.
“I’m fairly certain that we now have more pupils who want to go into construction or engineering.”
The City Council’s Cabinet backed the gateway’s works programme at its January 2018 meeting after the council secured an extra £3.36m of funding through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF). This allowed the council to revise the budget and propose extra features including more highway resurfacing and new paving throughout the North Bridge Street area.
The scheme includes:
• New signalised junction at the Church Street North/Dame Dorothy Street junction, with new pedestrian crossing facilities
• Road widening on Dame Dorothy Street for two-way traffic. This will also include the construction of a new retaining wall within the grass verge
• New road layout at the North Bridge Street/Dame Dorothy Street junction to allow a right turn onto Dame Dorothy Street
• Amendments to the Wheatsheaf junction to allow all vehicles to travel southbound on North Bridge Street
• Changes to the roadmarkings over the Wearmouth Bridge and southern bridgehead roundabout.