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A new bike-friendly footbridge spanning the River Soar has been officially opened to pedestrians and cyclists.

The new 3.5m wide footbridge was safely lifted into place next to the historic Abbey Corner Bridge on Leicester’s Abbey Park Road just over a fortnight ago, and will become the centrepiece of a major £7.5million revamp of the busy road.

Picture: Leicester City Council

Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “This fabulous new footbridge will be at the centre of our ambitious revamp of Abbey Park Road. The changes we’re making will help radically change the way people think about travelling along this important route and help make it a safer, more appealing and people-friendly route.

“Without this new bike-friendly route, the existing road bridge would continue to be a daunting prospect for cyclists at busy times.

“It is absolutely vital that we continue to invest in healthier, greener and safer streets to accommodate future growth of the city and its economy, all of which supports our commitments to address the climate emergency and to reduce air pollution.”

With the new footbridge in place, work has shifted to essential maintenance of the Grade-II listed road bridge, which dates back to 1878. The bridge is showing signs of corrosion in the cast iron structure along with other issues which require extensive repairs to ensure that the bridge can continue to be used safely by heavy traffic.

The major and complex nature of the bridge maintenance works mean that Abbey Park Road will remain closed to through traffic until early in the new year. A well-signed, short diversion is in place and access is being maintained for residents, businesses and for the main car park at Abbey Park.

The £7.5million revamp of Abbey Park Road – which will also see new bus lanes introduced and footpaths improved to create a safer and more attractive route for pedestrians and cyclists – is supported by the Transforming Cities Fund as part of an ambitious programme of investment in sustainable transport across the city.

The Transforming Cities Fund is a major £80million citywide programme of investment in sustainable transport, backed by £40million of Government cash from the Department for Transport. The ambitious package of works will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, education, shops and other local facilities to help support the city’s growth and deliver on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments.

The programme includes the development of new bus priority corridors linking the city centre to local neighbourhoods and suburbs along with the continued development of a network of high-quality cycling and walking routes throughout the city.