LONG envisaged plans to “cross the river” to link two Leeds beauty spots are finally bearing fruit.
Cycling charity Sustrans has been awarded a £396,000 contract to build a new bridge across the River Aire at Skelton, along with a short length of cycleway connecting to the TransPennine Trail.
As reported in the YEP previously, a route between Rothwell and Temple Newsam - linking two of the city’s most celebrated parks - has been a long-held ambition for local residents. But the plans have never come to fruition, mainly due to the difficulty of building a crossing over the river and canal.
But now Leeds city council bosses have entrusted Sustrans with the job, because they believe the organisation offers the “most effective means” to “overcome two problems”.
Sustrans already owns and manages more then 1,500 bridges in England, as well as hundreds of miles of cycleways.
A report just signed off by the council’s director of city development says: “The council has been seeking a way to cross the valley in this vicinity for 28 years.
“The proposed cycleway between Temple Newsam and Rothwell requires a means of crossing both the River Aire and the Aire and Calder Navigation (the canal).
“Planning permission for the work was obtained in July 2013 and since then, officers have been working on ways to deliver the scheme.”
The report says the council already has a “successful record of partnership working on other lengths of cycleway” with Sustrans and that it makes “practical sense” to have a single contract for the work.
The Coal Authority has contributed £450,000 to pay for the scheme, with some of that already spent on fixing bridleways.
Sustrans would own the new bridge and would be in charge of managing both the bridge and the cycleway on a long-term basis.