Cornwall opens flagship bridge after curtailed active travel plans

16/04/2024
Chris Ames

A 'game changer' active travel bridge over the A30 in Cornwall is now open.

The new bridge at Chiverton is part of a National Highways funded network of cycle routes that Cornwall Council had to cut back from a planned 30km to just 13km.

The county council, which led on the design and delivery of the 48-metre structure, said it provides a safe crossing point for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders for the first time and significantly boosts local connectivity.

It is part of the Saints Trails route linking St Agnes and Threemilestone, one of just two planned routes from an original four. 

Cornwall Council said the route will not be complete until later this year as works are continuing on the section of the A390 between Penstraze and West Langarth.

The bridge was built by Costain, which provided detailed design and construction services. It is also currently delivering the new A30 Chiverton and Carland Cross dualling schemes for National Highways.

Andy Clarke, director for integrated transport at Costain, called the bridge a 'game-changer for active travel’.

Richard Williams-Pears, the council’s cabinet portfolio holder for transport, described the structure as ‘a great example of what can be achieved by partnership working between the council, National Highways and Costain’.

He added: ‘The bridge includes some iconic design features to reflect the nearby Cornish Mining World Heritage areas and is a key part of the Saints Trail route and a link that residents and users have been keen to see in place.’

Colin Bird, South West regional delivery director for National Highways, said: ‘We’ve pumped £11.9m of investment into Cornwall to help provide a network of cycling trails between the coastline and Truro and the funding has enabled Cornwall Council to install a network of routes for non-motorised users, including walkers and horse riders, and represents one of the largest cycling infrastructure investments ever in the region.’

In fact, National Highways originally announced in 2019 that it was pumping £17m into the Saints Trails from its RIS 1 (2015-20) designated funds programme but has confirmed that it cut back its contribution due to Cornwall Council ‘facing difficulties in achieving the deliverable timeframe’.

The Saints Trails were initially conceived as a £19m programme featuring four routes: St Agnes to Truro; Trispen to Idless; St Newlyn East to Carland Cross; and Perranporth to Newquay.

Following a series of delivery problems, delays and projected overspending, the St Agnes to Truro route was cut back, the Perranporth to Newquay was also curtailed to become a route from Perranporth to Goonhavern, and the other two routes were scrapped.

The situation has reportedly been described by local councillors as an ‘unmitigated disaster’, a ‘total shambles’, a ‘fiasco’ and a ‘mess’.

The remaining projects are funded by £5m from the European Regional Development Fund, £2m from Cornwall Council and National Highways’ remaining contribution of nearly £12m.

The cancellation of the Trispen to Idless and St Newlyn East to Carland Cross routes also casts further doubt on National Highways’ claim to have carried out 160 cycling and walking schemes between 2015 and 2020.

The government-owned organisation previously confirmed to Highways that it counted minor on-road works in preparation for the two routes as projects towards the total of 160 schemes.

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