Final preparations are being made for the replacement of a footbridge as work to transform a popular area of Grimsby Town Centre progresses well.
The centre-piece of Garth Lane’s current re-invention is a much wider five-metre pedestrian walkway over the Freshney. Its design has been drawn up with the public’s views in mind – almost 400 people responded to a shout-out for suggestions, with others visiting a public event at the nearby Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.
Once in place, it will provide an appealing and safer passage between Riverhead Square and Fisherman’s Wharf with lots of passing space – a greater consideration now than ever before. The design is going through its final review stages with a planning application expected at the end of this month when it will be revealed.
Surrounding the bridge will be new paving, lighting, tiered seating down to the water, wildflower areas and artistic designs, which include carved ‘fish-benches’. These have been created by wood sculpture Mick Burns from the branches of the 40-year-old Willow tree that stood by the river. The tree is being replaced, along with another Willow on the Riverhead side of the bank. Other tree planting includes five Dutch Elm resistant Elms and four Stone Pines.
The existing bridge is due to be taken out in early September, with the exact date to be determined once final Environment Agency checks are made – and the nesting swallows under the bridge have flown.
This passage over the river and the immediate area will then remain closed for six months with a walking/cycling diversion clearly marked, taking people across the river and Frederick Ward Way via Alexandra Road. The work has also been timed to ensure it does not clash with extensive renovation to Corporation Bridge, which is scheduled to start spring 2021.
The closure will allow the abutments, which connect the deck of the bridge safely to the ground, to be constructed along with new steel retention work, paving and slipways down to the river. Lighting columns will also be installed.
As reported, the Garth Lane footbridge and its surrounding waterfront and public areas are being revitalised as part of a £3.5million project, supported by £1.3m secured by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership from the Local Growth Fund as part of the Government’s commitment to the Northern Powerhouse, and The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government with funding released as a result of the Grimsby Town Deal. It is being managed by North East Lincolnshire Council’s regeneration Partner ENGIE.
The first phase of work, on the Riverhead side of Frederick Ward Way, is due to be complete by the end of August.
Appreciating the inconvenience the footbridge closure may cause, Cllr Philip Jackson, Leader of NELC, said: “The work here forms a vital part of the complete redevelopment of the Garth Lane area – a visible change to the town as part of the Greater Grimsby Town Deal, creating a space that people can enjoy.
“The present bridge is extremely narrow and, especially in the current environment, we want people to feel safe and have good space to walk across and to stop and enjoy looking at the river if they wish.
“This area is a historic part of our town and people should be able to stop, sit and make the most of the waterfront. We do, however, understand that the diversion may create slight inconvenience for some and we assure you, we will do all we can to ensure the work is completed as soon as it can be and with the least disruption possible.”