A bridge too far?
06:00 08 May 2014
A BRIDGE over the A3052 at The Bowd could double the cost of a long-awaited East Devon cycle and walking trail - already expected to cost £1.4million.
The prediction is made in a feasibility study looking at the possibility of developing a 16km multi-use route linking Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary and Feniton.
The well-established concept - of a link that broadly follows the line of the dismantled railway - has been explored in detail by sustainable travel charity Sustrans.
The study reviews a number of route options. Many sections of the old railway have been built on, and 28 private landowners have so far been identified by Sustrans. The charity has also assessed the benefits and challenges of developing a multi-use trail across East Devon, at an estimated cost of around £1.4 million.
However, the provision of a bridge over the A3052 at The Bowd, Sidmouth, would potentially double the construction total.
Any possible trail, delivered in sections over several years, would serve 26,000 residents.
The aim would be to develop a route that is convenient, safe, accessible and attractive, in order to provide communities with a realistic alternative to the car to encourage people to travel by foot, cycle or horse.
It could generate around £600,000-a-year of extra spending in the area from visitors.
Paul Hawkins, of Sustrans, said: “Linking up these communities with a safe route is very appealing and would provide both tourism and local commuting benefits. Delivery of a whole route would be complex, involve many stakeholders and take many years, but with careful planning sections could be delivered.”
Devon County Council is committed to investing in cycling.
Highways chief, Councillor Stuart Hughes said: “This report is useful in highlighting future possibilities, but it has to be remembered that this trail is a long term ambition rather than something which can be achieved overnight.”