Esh Construction completes flagship £42.5m infrastructure project in Sunderland

The new dual carriageway links the Northern Spire bridge and the city centre.

Esh Construction has marked the completion of its largest project in company history with Phase 3 of the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor (SSTC3) now officially open.

The 2.4km dual carriageway was unveiled in an opening ceremony held on Wednesday, 3rd November. Esh Chief Executive and Executive Director, Andy Radcliffe and Stephen Wilkie, along with SSTC3 Project Director, Steve Garrigan, joined the Leader of Sunderland City Council Graeme Miller on site to cut a ceremonial ribbon and watch the first vehicles travel the brand new route.

Delivered in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Capita, the new corridor links the Northern Spire bridge with the city centre. The scheme was procured via the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) with Esh pledging to deliver a wealth of economic and social value benefits for the local area, from employment and procurement to community engagement initiatives.

Esh Chief Executive, Andy Radcliffe, said: “SSTC3 is the largest scheme Esh has delivered in company history and, in doing so, we have employed a local workforce and procured a local supply chain, achieving a magnificent £26m spend within the local area and a 98% North East workforce.

“Collaboration has been key to this project’s success from the outset. The impact of a global pandemic and material shortages could never have been predicted, yet the determination to overcome every challenge has been remarkable and a huge testament to everyone involved. I am immensely proud of what has been achieved in the delivery of this project and look forward to continuing this success into all future projects with Sunderland City Council.”

The road forms part of a major investment by the council to establish a strategic public transport corridor which is aimed at connecting communities to the city centre and relieving congestion while also improving business links.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The SSTC3 project is an important one for Sunderland, and a key infrastructure investment for the council, providing access to Sunderland city centre for our communities and aiding community wealth. I am delighted to see it completed today and our plans for the future of the city take another step forward.”

SSTC3 begins at the southern end of the Northern Spire and continues through the former Pallion Shipyard, underneath the Queen Alexandra Bridge, into Deptford Terrace and onto the city centre.

Over 1.6km of work was completed offline, including the installation of four large retaining wall structures to create space for the highway between the shipyard and the upper existing highway and the Tyne and Wear Metro line. The new carriageway lies 12m below Pallion New Road and 8m above the Lower Pallion engineering works.

More than half of the workforce were Sunderland residents, including Esh Construction Project Director, Steve Garrigan, who has been at the helm since the first day back in 2019, overseeing a staggering 750,000 hours worked on site. He said: “Challenging schemes of this nature and magnitude don’t come along often. I am proud to have led the delivery of Esh’s flagship project alongside a local workforce and local supply chain.

“Completing any contract to a deadline is always the hardest part of any project. The last six months have been challenging, juggling the pandemic and material shortages – and the knock-on effect of both to the supply chain – has required exceptional efforts from everyone involved from the project team in order to achieve completion. I extremely proud on behalf of everyone involved.”

The project has won the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) Project of the Year 2020/21 for North East & Cumbria, and in October’s Constructing Excellence North East awards received Highly Commended in the Civils Project of the Year category.

A total of 32 new local jobs have been created, with over one-third of the new starters now permanently employed by Esh to work across schemes beyond the completion of SSTC3.

Collaboration has been key to this project's success from the outset. The impact of a global pandemic and material shortages could never have been predicted, yet the determination to overcome every challenge has been remarkable and a huge testament to everyone involved. I am immensely proud of what has been achieved in the delivery of this project and look forward to continuing this success into all future projects with Sunderland City Council.”

Andy Radcliffe, Esh Group Chief Executive Officer
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