Last night (14th May 2009), the Tees Valley in North East England, a heart of urban regeneration in the UK, unveiled its new picture-postcard image - the spectacular Infinity Bridge.
A landmark construction which has changed the face of Stockton-on-Tees, the £15 million Infinity Bridge spans the River Tees and links a multi million pound waterfront development with the thriving Teesdale area (the former site of Head Wrightson and Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 infamous ‘walk in the wilderness’) and Durham University Queen’s campus. It represents a physical and symbolic gateway to new jobs, state of the art housing and new learning opportunities.
Designed by Expedition Engineering, the footbridge forms a spectacular silhouette – two symmetrical flowing arches spanning a total of 180 metres and, at its highest point, standing 40 metres above the Tees. When reflected in the water, it forms the mathematical symbol "infinity".
The pedestrian and cycle bridge will act as a major catalyst in the area’s regeneration. Not only has it already created significant local employment in the construction phase (three local construction firms on site and almost all the team involved live within a 15 mile radius) but it has also played a part in attracting major commercial and educational investment to the North Shore. When fully developed, North Shore will create significant job opportunities, in total 1,000 houses and over one million square feet of commercial floor space including medical, hotel and leisure facilities for the people of Stockton North Shore, and the Infinity Bridge as a catalyst, are set to re-invigorate employment opportunities and bring real economic, cultural and physical benefits to a static local economy suffering from the decline of heavy industry. It is estimated that at least 2500 jobs will be created.
Tees Valley Regeneration director, Neil Kenley, said: “The Infinity Bridge is simply magnificent - graceful curves peak at 16 metres high and 60 metres long (small arch) and 32 metres high and 120 metres long on the long arch, which alone is made from over 300 tonnes of Corus steel. It is a significant milestone in the development and growth of Tees Valley. Its function is not only practical but also economic and spiritual – it is a symbol of hope for the people of Stockton.”
Neil added: “It is quite fitting that the bridge has been constructed by innovative local companies and local people – we have a very proud tradition of building great bridges, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Transporter Bridge and also the Newport Bridge. The Infinity Bridge is the latest example of this construction skill, and is set to become the new iconic landmark of the Tees Valley.”
Tees Valley Regeneration is currently leading five core regeneration schemes in the region as part of a £2 billion investment programme in land, property and infrastructure. Three of these schemes feature state-of-the-art educational facilities. The projects are Middlehaven in Middlesbrough, Victoria Harbour in Hartlepool, Central Park in Darlington, SKYLINK International Business Park at Durham Tees Valley Airport and North Shore in Stockton.
The Infinity Bridge opened to spectacular effect, with illumination and entertainments, and an audience of approximately 20,000.
Notes to editors:
• The Infinity Bridge project has been driven and funded by a consortium of partners, led by Tees Valley Regeneration.
- Design by Expedition Engineering
- Funded by Stockton Borough Council, Home and Communities Agency (HCA formally English Partnerships) One North East and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
- Lead contractor – Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering
- Sub contractors – Dorman Long (built Sydney Harbour Bridge) and Cleveland Bridge
• The bridge was constructed between summer 2007 and December 2008
• Graceful curves peak at 16 metres high and 60 metres long (small arch) and 32 metres high and 120 metres long on the long arch, which alone is made from over 300 tonnes of Corus steel. The footbridge deck is also one of the longest in the country.
• Innovative underfoot and handrail lighting ensure respect for the environment and create a pleasant effect for users. High quality stainless steel handrails together with bespoke designed feature lighting will illuminate the bridge at night.
• It is anticipated that 4,000 people will cross the bridge each day.
• North Shore’s Home Zone will sit proudly alongside the Infinity Bridge. Home Zone will feature 250 of the site’s 1000 homes, and is currently the subject of an international RIBA design competition.
• Since the plans for the Bridge were first drawn up, leading regeneration specialists MUSE developments and award winning property developers Urban Splash have committed to the North Shore scheme.
• Durham University has purchased an option of land on North Shore, thus announcing its intention to expand its Queen’s Campus at Stockton across the river. The new academic development could include a new residential college, research and / or conference facilities.