AMBITIOUS plans to build a bridge for cyclists and pedestrians over the River Aire have taken a major step forward.
The bridge would span the river near St Ann’s Mills in Leeds and play a key role in opening more of Kirkstall Valley and its nature reserve to walkers and cyclists.
City Council engineers have been carrying out investigations at the site by drilling boreholes on the Armley side of the river in the reserve.
Early indications are that the land is capable of supporting the foundations for the structure.
Coun John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall), a driving force behind the scheme, said: “We needed these tests to establish that the idea was feasible and that the land was not unstable, which would have put the costs up dramatically.
“There is good rock a few metres down and even the subsoil has sufficient load bearing capacity.
“The bridge is an essential step in opening up off-road, traffic-free cycle routes along the valley floor between Kirkstall Forge and the city centre.
“Such a route would be flat. easy and safe. The existing route along the canal towpath is getting busy and the lack of bridges over the canal, railway line and River Aire makes the towpath relatively inaccessible to people in Bramley, Armley and Kirkstall.”
Once engineers have produced their report, the scheme’s supporters will hold talks with the Environment Agency before submitting a planning application. The estimated cost of the bridge is £60,000.
Rachel Reeves MP (Lab, Leeds West) said: “This bridge, when complete, will play a major part in creating a walking and cycle route all the way from the city centre to the site of the Kirkstall Forge development – a project that is close to my heart.
“These sort of initiatives are bringing the communities of west Leeds closer together, and I am doing all I can to support them.”