Construction of the new Scarborough Bridge pedestrian and cycle crossing, the first new city centre bridge over the Ouse in York for 137 years, has started with work progressing on schedule.
The new bridge for people travelling by bike or on foot between the railway station and city centre is being delivered through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60 million CityConnect programme, which is aimed at encouraging more people to cycle and walk, in partnership with City of York Council and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership.
The existing footbridge is well used with over 3,000 people crossing it daily, despite access issues limiting people who can use it. This will remain in use until the end of January 2019, when it will close to the public for several weeks. The new bridge is scheduled to be complete and open to the public in March 2019 and will address access issues with ramps and external steps leading to the riverside paths.
On the southern side a new path on the top of the embankment will mean that users can travel directly between York Station and the new bridge providing a traffic free scenic route to the city centre.
Cllr Eric Firth, Deputy Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “We’re delighted to be working with City of York Council and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership on this important project.
“Scarborough Bridge is just one example of how the Combined Authority, through its £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot, is working in partnership to improve cycling and walking infrastructure across our region.
“We know encouraging more of us to travel by bike or on foot not only boosts people’s health and saves individual’s money, it also brings wider environmental and economic benefits, which is why we want to make cycling and walking a natural choice for short, everyday journeys.”
Executive Member for Transport and Planning at City of York Council, Cllr Peter Dew, said: “Scarborough Bridge has a long history in the city and this newly upgraded version will ensure that it is fit for the modern day user and generations to come.
“We have ensured following a consultation with the public and partners that the new bridge will be accessible for all and easy to use with ramps and walkways, instead of steep steps which forced people with mobility issues or prams to use other routes and cyclists to dismount and carry their bikes.
“Whilst there is likely to be some disruption to residents and visitors during these works I have no doubt that the new bridge and resulting traffic free route from the station to the city centre will be worth the wait and quickly become an iconic new feature of the city centre.”
Executive Member for Economic Development and Community Engagement at City of York Council, Cllr Keith Aspden, said: “The Scarborough Bridge pedestrian and cycle crossing has been long overdue for a full replacement. After speaking with residents, businesses and key partners to draw up a design that is fit for the modern day and generations to come I’m delighted that spades are now in the ground and work has started.”
David Kerfoot MBE DL, Chair of York, North York and East Riding Enterprise Partnership (YNYER EP), said: “This bridge marks an important moment in the history of the city of York. Not only is it the first new city centre bridge to be built in the city for over 100 years, it is also the first step towards an exciting time in the future of the city. Accessibility for all will be crucial to the success of York Central, our Enterprise Zone. The ambitions of the site will be met by ensuring connectivity to the city and York Station for all forms of transport and Scarborough Bridge is the first piece of the puzzle.”
Stephen Hind, Route Enhancements Manager for Network Rail, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the council to upgrade the bridge to provide improved connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, and to have encountered such positive support for the project during the public consultation events.
We will continue to work closely with the council and local residents to make sure any disruption is kept to the minimum and advertised well in advance.”
The original bridge was designed and built by Robert Stephenson in 1845. This first iteration saw the walkway placed between the railway tracks and was accessed by internal steps.
When York Station was moved in 1873-5 the bridge was updated to make it suitable. This is when the current footbridge was installed and has remained largely unchanged for the last 144 years.
The existing footbridge is very narrow at 1.3 metres wide and is not readily accessible with steep steps on both sides of the river. This will be removed entirely in early 2019 and a new replacement 65 metre long shared-use pedestrian and cycle bridge constructed. This will be almost three times as wide, at 3.7 metres.
Another advantage of the new bridge is that it will be accessible even when the river is in flood. It will also be well lit and covered by CCTV so that users will feel safe to use it 24/7.
The cost of the new bridge is £4 million. Most of this has been funded externally from central government grants which the council has bid for over the past three years in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and YNYER EP.