A NEW bridge for pedestrians - which has finally been put into position more than two years after approval was granted by Barnsley Council’s planning board - is set to boost safety for thousands of schoolchildren.
A total of £1.5m was set aside for the ‘active travel’ structure for pedestrians and cyclists spanning the single-track railway line - which runs from Huddersfield to Sheffield via Barnsley - between Penny Pie Park and Pogmoor Recreation Ground.
Given its location nearby Horizon Community College and Network Rail’s claim that the site is a hotspot for on-track trespassing, funding was secured from Sheffield City Region - now known as the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority - for the scheme.
The Chronicle can reveal the bridge is entering its final stages of work before completion and could open before the beginning of the new school year in September.
Coun Robert Frost, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, said: “It’s very much welcome and will provide pedestrians and cyclists with added safety.
“It’s great it’s now in position and will be a great addition to the Penny Pie Park area.”
Penny Pie Park, subject of a new one-way road system which opened last year, now has a new play area but despite the controversial new road being subject to a 2,700-strong petition against its creation, one aspect of the public consultation was the need for a bridge over the railway.
After approval was given for the scheme in April 2021, cabinet approved the award of the footbridge and civils works contract later that year.
However, the contract could not been executed on time due to a number of mining risk uncertainties raised by Network Rail, which were subsequently addressed following ground condition surveys and further testing.
As the bridge is intended for both pedestrian and cycle use, a three-metre width has been provided, with new access paths leading to and from the structure also being created, linking into the paths created as part of the signalised gyratory scheme.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton added: “This is really welcome and when we consulted on the new road scheme, while not everyone was in favour of the scheme, one thing that did come back was getting a bridge across the railway.
“This was for all kinds of reasons, not least of which we know some young people have been crossing that railway line without any safety measures to get towards Horizon school.
“Hopefully it will deal with a number of concerns and issues around there.”