A major multi-million pound road and bridge linking one of the region’s key regeneration sites together has been unveiled and its official name revealed.
The Middlehaven Dock Bridge project forms the latest phase of Middlesbrough’s ambitious £700 million investment programme and will be known as Priestman Road and Priestman Road Bridge.
They are named after a 1910-built dredger which was the first vessel built at South Bank by the legendary Smith’s Dock Company.
The £10 million project – funded through a £6.1m capital investment from Middlesbrough Council plus a £3.9m grant secured by Tees Valley Combined Authority from the Local Growth Fund initiative - paves the way for work to start on the proposed £30 million snow centre.
The new access also opens up around 25 hectares of strategically important mixed-use commercial and residential development land on the wider Middlehaven site and links to industry at Riverside Park, including the TeesAMP development.
On Friday (October 19) Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd welcomed invited guests including Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, to the Hudson Quay site for the official unveiling ceremony.
During the 69-week project, main contractor Balfour Beatty installed a 95-tonne steel bridge, supported by 120 tonnes of steel reinforcement and 159 tonnes of pre-cast concrete units.
Works also included the removal of the existing footbridge and demolition of former office buildings on site.
Mayor Budd said: “The new bridge and relief road are major milestones in the transformation of Middlehaven, and will further unlock the area’s huge potential, as the established city heart of the Tees Valley.
“They are potent symbols of the ambition we have for Middlesbrough, and add further momentum to the regeneration that is taking place across the borough.
“The Priestman name points to a proud industrial past which helped lay the foundations for future growth, jobs and prosperity.”
Mr McDonald, who carried out the official ribbon cutting duty, said: “I am delighted to be officially opening the new Dock Bridge. It will provide crucial infrastructure for the developments at Middlehaven, such as the Snow Centre, and help ease congestion for local commuters by providing another link to the A66.
“Middlesbrough Council’s plans for regenerating Middlesbrough are expansive and ambitious and the Dock Bridge will ensure that they can deliver on the huge potential for sites in Middlehaven.
“The dramatic, transformational change that is taking place across the City Centre is a tremendous credit to the Council and I am proud to be involved with this latest example of the Mayor’s vision being delivered.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “It may only be a bridge, but this is the final piece of the jigsaw to fully regenerate the Middlehaven area and it’s great to see it now being delivered.
“With our £3.9million commitment, we can now unlock a huge amount of brownfield land near the Riverside Stadium and bring even more investment and jobs to the site, such as the game-changing Subzero snow centre.”
Stephen Semple, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s North and Midlands East Delivery Unit, said: “The completion of Middlehaven Dock Bridge and Link Road marks a significant milestone in the exciting regeneration of Middlesbrough.
“The new bridge and link road will provide vital access to development land on the Middlehaven site, which will unlock regional economic growth and bring extensive benefits to the local community.”
The Priestman was the first ship built at South Bank by Smith’s Dock Company. In 1907/8 The Smith’s Dock Co shipyard and associated drydocks and repair facilities were developed on a completely new site fronting the River Tees at South Bank, a little way downstream from Middlesbrough. In 1910 The Yard made its first dredger the Priestman.