A new £16 million bridge for Ebbsfleet Garden City has opened to the public for the first time after construction on the two-year project finished.
Three local residents were among the first to cross the new bridge in Dartford, with one saying it is “really going to change my life” and save her up to £1,128 in annual parking fees.
The bridge connects Springhead Park to Ebbsfleet International, allowing residents living in the new garden city to commute to work easily.
It opened on July 31 after two years of construction, and will also help reduce reliance on cars thanks to a dedicated walking lane allowing residents of Springhead Park to get to the train station in minutes.
Daria Ryndina, 29, moved into Springhead Park in October and was one of the first across as her home is close to the bridge.
She said: “Thanks to the bridge, I’ll be getting home a lot quicker and saving on the cost as I have had to use the bus until now.
“I’ve seen the bridge being constructed and I can see Ebbsfleet Station so it’s been quite annoying to be so close and yet a 30 minute walk away.
“I’ve been waiting for the bridge to open and this really is going to change my life.”
Susi Lewis-Tuck, 61, has also lived in Springhead Park for three years and her new journey will help her save more than £1,000 on parking costs.
She currently only walks during the summer months, when she says it is less dangerous than using the old route.
Work started in May 2018 with residents closely following the project at each stage, thanks to drone footage carried out and published by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation.
Julia Gregory, Director of Projects with Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, which has built the £16 million bridge, said: “This bridge will provide an easy route on a dedicated walking lane for residents of Springhead Park who want to leave their car at home and get to Ebbsfleet International and the future Ebbsfleet Central Area.
“It will also provide a cycle track and access for all vehicles including a new Fastrack bus route. We’re delighted the bridge has been so well received by residents.”
As well as a dedicated walking and cycling route the bridge also opened to the first vehicles.
Ebbsfleet Garden City now has more than 2000 homes with approximately 5,000 new residents. It’s first primary school opened in 2017, two more will open this September and a planning application for a major secondary and primary education campus has been submitted.
A pub and hotel opened two years ago and a second has already been approved by the corporation’s planning committee.
The Garden City’s first supermarket opened last summer and a second is planned soon.
Mark Robinson, Scape Group chief executive said: “Helping to improve the environment through a reduction in car emissions, whilst giving the community a much needed boost to their disposable income are great outcomes for this project and so, this fantastic bridge couldn’t have opened at a better time.
“Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Balfour Beatty have forged a collaborative relationship to deliver a project works so well. We’re proud to have helped accelerate, performance manage and deliver a lasting legacy for the people in the local area.”
Nick Osborne, Balfour Beatty Regional Director of Operations in the South of England, said: “We are delighted to have completed works at Springhead Bridge, with the first pedestrians crossing the bridge today.
“The safe and efficient delivery of this project is testament to the skills and expertise of our dedicated team and local supply chain who are proud to be creating a positive lasting legacy for the travelling public in Ebbsfleet.”