A new footbridge in Sidmouth has been officially opened today (Friday, October 9) – with its completion hailed as ‘a major achievement’.
The 19-metre span replaces the historic Alma Bridge and is some 40 metres inland from the original.
An information panel commemorating and marking the position of the old structure – completer with reclaimed bricks, copings and finials – has been included in the scheme.
The Ham recreational area next to the new bridge will remain shut until the spring to allow fresh turfing to become established.
Dignitaries took part in a ribbon-cutting event at the site this morning.
Devon County Council (DCC) chairman Stuart Barker said: “This is a very impressive new asset for the town and its design means it is accessible for everyone.
“The project has been a big undertaking, with cliff reprofiling and stabilisation work alongside the construction of the structure itself.
“This new bridge will maintain an essential link to the South West Coast Path, which provides significant economic benefit for the town.
“I think everyone involved in this project can be proud of what has been achieved.”
Sidmouth representative Cllr Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highway management, added: “It’s nice to see this project come to fruition after working on getting a new bridge for many years.
“This is a fitting replacement for the Alma Bridge. It maintains vital access to the seafront for residents east of the town, as well as providing the gateway to the South West Coast Path.
“The location of the original bridge unfortunately meant that it was always on borrowed time and we would need to look at a crossing further inland.
“A lot of work has gone into the design and construction of this new structure and it’s a major achievement.”
Sidmouth Town Council chairman Ian Barlow added: “This is a great way to start the enhancement of not just the Ham, but the eastern end of our seafront.
“Hopefully it will be a catalyst to further the regeneration of this underused area and bring it up to the high standards we have become accustomed [to]in the rest of the town.
“The county council has shown that working with us as a local town council benefits us all and our thanks must got to them for this forwardlooking plan and the substantial investment involved on our behalf and for the generations to come.”
The ‘contemporary’ design of the new bridge features curved and profiled ‘rib’ parapet posts to give a nautical appearance.
Its east-side abutment and ramp structure has curved ends, softening its appearance and emergence from the sandstone cliffs.
This structure is clad in ‘Purbeck Blue’ limestone which has been selected to match the existing walling on the east side and is one of the strata found on the Jurassic Coast.
Access to the bridge from both sides is via short sections of relatively steep ramp which match the average gradient of the nearby Hanger path.
The original Alma Bridge, which dated from the early 1900s, had been damaged during severe floods in 2012. It was removed in May.
Contractor MacPlant Construction Ltd has undertaken the work on the new bridge on behalf of DCC.
Please consider helping EastDevonNews.co.uk give you more community news, views and coverage. Click the button below to make a contribution or read more about our work here.