New River Clyst bridge installed

Topsham’s new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Clyst has been craned into position, marking the end of a 14 year campaign.

A 250 tonne crane was used to lift the bridge’s main 28 metre span into place, divided into two sections, and a second smaller crane was used to help install the timber boardwalk approach to the bridge.

The operation drew a large crowd, who watched from the garden of the Bridge Inn as the new crossing was lifted into place.

The long campaign for a new pedestrian crossing was started by Topsham’s then city councillor Mary Evans, and will allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the river safely, without having to brave the traffic on the existing narrow road bridge.

Topsham alderman Mary, who was on hand to watch the bridge being craned in, said: “I started this 14 years ago when I got in touch with Devon County Council and told them who owned the land.

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“I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime, but it’s finally happening!”

Devon County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation Stuart Hughes said: “This is a historic day really – Mary Evans has done a lot of campaigning, and I’m pleased to see it’s finally coming to fruition.

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“The bridge is going to carry a lot of cyclists and pedestrians and make it a lot safer for them and encourage more people to take up cycling.

“It will be a huge boost for the local economy and the community.”

The scheme went ahead after the landowners - Caroline Cheffers-Heard of the Bridge Inn and Michael Dart of Darts Farm – agreed to the bridge being built, with Mrs Cheffers-Heard agreeing to rent her land to the council for one pound.

She said: “The previous proposal from the council was to have traffic lights on the road bridge, which would have been fairly detrimental to us, so we decided to enable a new bridge over the Clyst for pedestrians.

“The road bridge has become more and more dangerous to walk over, so it’s wonderful to have the new bridge here – it’s been needed for a very long time.”

The new bridge has cost �500,000 to build, and is being jointly funded by Devon County Council and sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

With the bridge’s span now in place, the finishing touches will now be applied before an expected opening at the end of September.

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