Today in Transportation History – 2008: A New Surtees Bridge Debuts

In northeastern England, a new bridge was officially dedicated. The Surtees Bridge, carrying the A66(T) road across the River Tees near the borough of Stockton-on-Tees, replaced a structure that had been built there in 1981 with two vehicular lanes in each direction. The original Surtees Bridge, while initially estimated to have a design life of 120 years, quickly showed signs of irreversible distress; the spongy layers of soil on the eastern bank of the river would not settle, causing that section of the bridge to gradually both shift and sink over time.

The decision was therefore made to construct a new and sturdier Surtees Bridge that could withstand those ground settlement challenges. Construction on the replacement bridge with reinforced concrete and steel girders began during the spring of 2006. Throughout this period of construction, the government-owned Highways Agency (now called Highways England) made sure that two lanes of traffic in each direction continued to be available for motorists even as sections of the old bridge were being torn down.

The new 492-foot (150-meter)-long Surtees Bridge, likewise estimated to have a design life of 120 years, was built with three vehicular lanes in each direction and also a combined pedestrian and bicycle track. “Not only will this scheme benefit drivers by easing congestion on this vital link between [the large local towns of] Darlington and Middlesbrough, but it also offers a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists,” explained Tom Harris, England’s parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, on the day of the new bridge’s formal debut. To avoid the soft-ground problems that doomed the original Surtees Bridge, the new structure was outfitted with four types of piling and river scour protection.

“These major improvements have been carried out with minimal disruption for road users,” said Harris. “Demolishing and rebuilding a bridge carrying 55,000 vehicles every day is a real achievement and I’d like to pay tribute to the Highways Agency and its contractors for their work here.”

For more information on the current Surtees Bridge and its predecessor, please check out

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