Page last updated at 00:15 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 01:15 UK

First step for new travel network

Queen of the South Viaduct, Dumfries
The Queen of the South Viaduct across the River Nith in Dumfries is the first part of a network across the UK

The first stage of a multi-million pound UK network of walking and cycling routes has been opened.

The Sustrans Connect2 scheme was awarded 50m in December after the public voted it the winner of The People's Millions Lottery contest.

A total of 79 communities across the UK will benefit from the new routes.

The network was launched with the opening of the Queen of the South Viaduct pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Nith in Dumfries.

Work has turned the disused railway viaduct into a link between the east and west of the town.

Our ambition is that when you wake up in the morning, walking and cycling will be the obvious way to get around
John Lauder
Sustrans director

Transport charity Sustrans said it would benefit the 25,000 people who live within a mile of the route, enabling them to walk or cycle to school, work or the town centre.

Nearby resident Vivienne Mullet said: "The viaduct was the missing link.

"I feel so lucky having this on my doorstep - it will open up the whole town to me.

"I used to have to get in my car to go to the supermarket, now I just head out with my dog."

The Dumfries scheme cost 480,000, funded by 230,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and 250,000 from the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership.

John Lauder, Scottish director for Sustrans, added: "Our ambition is that when you wake up in the morning, walking and cycling will be the obvious way to get around.

"Nearly half of all car journeys are under three miles, well within cycling distance, and with the Queen of the South Viaduct opening today, walking and cycling will be a natural choice for local travel in Dumfries."

Other projects

Over the next five years, nearly 30m a year will be invested in creating the local walking and cycling networks from Devon to Perthshire.

The plans in Scotland include the completion of the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, which was abandoned in mid-air above the M8.

In Perth, there will be a bridge link to Scone for walkers and cyclists.

In Lanarkshire, the Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse scheme will connect communities to Chatelherault and Strathclyde Country Parks.

Projects soon to get under way elsewhere include a reinstated ferry at Blyth, Northumberland; a bridge across the River Ely at Tiger Bay in Cardiff; a new bridge over the railway line in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland; and the opening of a bridge designed by Brunel in Bristol.


SEE ALSO
Lottery windfall for Scots routes
13 Dec 07 |  Scotland

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