Work on the £1.4M Connect2 project to improve footpaths and cycleways in and around Watermead Country Park is ahead of schedule.
Leicestershire County Council has now largely completed construction work within the park’s boundary − the next stage of the scheme is to improve links into the park from nearby villages including crossing points at busy roads.
Work completed so far includes over two kilometres of improved paths and a trio of award winning bridges at Thurmaston and Birstall Locks, which were highly commended at the recent ICE awards.
The improvements are all part of the Sustrans Connect2 project which won a share of £50M Big Lottery Fund grant in December 2007 following a public vote.
Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for environment and transport Lesley Pendleton said: “We want to make sure that the changes over the next five years will greatly improve accessibility into and around the park for all of these people.
“The new crossings, paths and award winning bridges will help people get across Watermead. Connect2 opens up a convenient, healthier and more environmentally friendly way to get from one village to another and into Leicester than using the car.”
Sustrans area manager Patrick Davis said: “We are delighted that the scheme in Leicestershire is progressing so well, and that the newly constructed bridges have been recognised at the ICE awards.
“In this era of rising fuel prices and concerns about the health of individuals and our environment, enabling more journeys to be made by foot and bike can only benefit our community.”
To complement the Connect2 scheme a new three metre wide surfaced path between Old Hall Close off Canal Street, Thurmaston and Johnson’s Bridge has also recently been completed.
The surfacing has been provided by Charles Street Buildings in conjunction with the diversion of the footpath through its industrial estate to enable development to take place. The route provides an additional route into Watermead Country Park from Thurmaston.
Pendleton said: “The previous path was not attractive to users and gave concern to site tenants from both health and safety and security points of view.
“The diverted path has provided an asset for the community at a standard that provides improved access for all to Watermead Country Park. Charles Street Buildings is to be congratulated on seeing the possibility of this improvement and delivering it promptly.”