The newest bridge on the River Tees is a pedestrian and cycle bridge linking the North Shore devlopment with the University of Durham’s Queen’s Campus and the Teesdale Business Park. There are two asymetrical arches and the arched section is 180 metres long, (main arch 120m) and is 273 metres overall, and uses 450 tonnes of locally produced steel. It creates a reflection in the river forming the mathematical infinity symbol, hence its name.
A special feature is made of the way the bridge is lit at night. This lighting scheme was designed by Speirs and Major Associates who also designed the lighting for the Burj Al-Arab. At night the bridge handrail and footway are lit with designer blue and white LED lighting built into the handrail that changes colour as users cross. Attached to the steel cable ties are white metal-halide up-lighters to illuminate the white painted bridge arches, and blue LED down-lighters to illuminate the water and ground surfaces immediately below the deck. At night from certain viewing angles when the river surface is flat calm, the twin arches together with their reflection in the river appear as an infinity symbol ∞, and it is this effect that inspired its name.
The bridge was officially opened on 14 May 2009 and opened to the public two days later. It is expected that some four thousand people a day will use the footbridge and this is anticipated to rise as the University develops on the north bank.
The bridge won the Institution of Structural Engineers’ Supreme Award for Structural Excellence 2009, the premier structural engineering award in the UK. It also won in its own category of Pedestrian Bridges. The other awards the bridge has won include the Structural Steel Design Award 2010, the Concrete Society Civil Engineering Award 2009, the ICE Robert Stephenson Award 2009, the North East Constructing Excellence Awards ‘Project of the Year’, and the Green Apple Award for the environment.