Work has begun to deliver the first scheme as part of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network - a plan for the UK’s largest cycling and walking network launched in 2018 by Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman.
Improvement works are now underway on the stretch of waterway in Astley, Wigan, known as the ‘Muddy Mile.’
Funded jointly by the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund, The Bridgewater Canal Company and Wigan Council, the £212,000 project will deliver the much-needed one mile stretch of surface improvements, as well as better access and signage, plugging a vital gap in the Bridgewater Way.
The works will allow people to cycle on the canal path all the way from Wigan Pier, through Leigh and across the Salford boundary to Monton and Patricroft.
A further project to reinstate the elevated towpath over the Barton Aqueduct is also proposed. Once completed, the Bridgewater Way will then connect to the Trafford Centre, Salford Quays, Manchester city centre and back out to Stretford, Sale and Altrincham, creating a 20-mile continuous multi user route.
The works are now underway and official notices have been posted along the towpath to advise the public of temporary footpath closures, which are necessary for the works to be delivered timely and efficiently. The closure is expected to continue through to June.
Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “It’s very exciting to see spades going into the ground on our first Bee Network scheme. We know that this vital missing link has been on residents’ wish lists for a long time and we’re thrilled to be able to help deliver a route that we know will be well used by thousands of people every year.”
Becca Heron, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council said: “We would like to thank local people for their cooperation throughout the duration of these works.
“I am sure everyone who uses this part of the towpath will be happy to see this upgrade take place. We will keep local people informed of any updates as the weeks progress.”
Louise Morrissey, Director of Land and Planning at Peel L&P who own the Bridgewater Canal, said: “The works in Astley are set to make a difference to those who use the canal on a regular basis for pleasure and commuting to their place of work. We look forward to hosting an event to celebrate the official opening of the upgraded section in a few months.”
The £160 million that the Mayor of Greater Manchester has allocated to the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund has been made possible thanks to national government’s Transforming Cities Fund.
The Transforming Cities Fund aims to improve productivity and spread prosperity through investment in public and sustainable transport in some of the largest English city regions and was first announced on 20 November 2017 by the Prime Minister.