New Wear Crossing Bridge Project
Sarens transports and raises a 1700T pylon from Belgium to the United Kingdom
April 2017

The New Wear Crossing bridge, a project of the city of Sunderland in the UK, is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2018. The bridge will span the River Wear from Castletown to Pallion, and its centrepiece will be a soaring 105m-high pylon.

Sarens has been entrusted with transporting and installing the bridge's 1700T A-frame pylon, an operation that requires very precise and detailed planning.

"The sheer size and weight of the pylon meant that it was never going to be an easy task," says Jim Kilcar, Bridge Supervisor for Atkins, which is supervising the New Wear Crossing project for Sunderland City Council. "Therefore, specialists from Sarens were brought in to devise and oversee operations."

As part of the operation's first phase, Sarens used barges to transport the pylon from the Victor Buyck Steel Construction yard in Ghent, Belgium to the city of Sunderland in the United Kingdom, delivering it on January 7th, 2017.

Transporting the pylon was a challenging feat of engineering, ingenuity, and teamwork, but the Sarens team handled it with well-coordinated expertise.

"Sarens handles heavy and complex cargo worldwide," says Carl Sarens, Director of Global Operations and Technical Solutions, Projects & Engineering. "But being involved in the transport of the pylon, and then raising it on site in a few weeks' time, is extremely complex and has required detailed in-house engineering expertise, working in close collaboration with the Farrans Victor Buyck (FVB) team." 

"The first challenge was slowly manoeuvering the pylon out of the fabrication yard and onto the two canal barges," explains Carl Sarens.

The pylon had to be jacked down onto Sarens' twin barges, Jozef-Rosa and Karel-Victor, using a combination of Sarens' PJ250 jacking system and jack & pack with 52 axle lines SPMT. During the two-day loading process, the barges were moored with a variety of hydraulic winches.

"This was a slow process because the ballast of the barges had to be carefully adjusted throughout the operation," Carl Sarens says.

Once the pylon was secured, the team had to manoeuvre it along tight canals, under a series of low bridges, and into the Port of Ghent. During the journey, Sarens operators had only about 30cm of margin on all sides of the pylon to clear the bridges.

In the Port of Ghent, the pylon was then transferred to Sarens' larger sea-faring barge, Louis. For this, the twin barges were first driven apart with SPMTs and once they were adequately separated, the barge Louis was inserted between them.

The pylon was transferred using SPMTs and ballasting of the barges. Once onboard the Louis, the pylon was rotated 90° and set down on its sea-fastening supports. Then, two weeks of preparation followed before the barge was ready for its two-day sea journey to Sunderland.

"We are delighted to have brought the pylon to Sunderland," Carl Sarens says. "It is a magnificent structure, so we are looking forward to seeing it raised into place."

The pylon's long journey came to a close this past weekend, February 11th and 12th, when the Sarens team carefully lifted and positioned it at its full height. 

Sarens wishes to commend project director Carl Sarens, project manager/engineer Kenny Decoster, and site manager Ben Duym, as well as our team of expert operators, for a successful operation. A video of the pylon's journey  can be viewed here.

For a full overview of the project, click here