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Work Begins on Bath Two Tunnels Project

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Work Begins on Bath Two Tunnels

Posted: 8th March 2010 | Source: Sustrans

Four years since its inception, the Bath Two Tunnels scheme - which will open up the Combe Down and Devonshire Tunnels as part of a walking and cycling route from Midford into Bath - is finally underway. Contractors have begun work to excavate and reopen the Devonshire Tunnel's northern portal and create links on both sides. The scheme has been championed by the community-led 'Two Tunnels Group', sustainable transport charity Sustrans, and Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Malcolm Shepherd, CEO of Sustrans, said, "After all the support and the years of campaigning, we finally get to see the diggers on site and this amazing route through these tunnels will become a reality that anyone can use. We want to help people make more local journeys by foot or bike and this route will show that by putting a good, safe, accessible route in place, we can get more people travelling sustainably everyday."

Councillor Charles Gerrish, Bath & North East Somerset Council Cabinet Member for Customer Services, said, "Walking and cycling will be made more attractive by this project and Bath & North East Somerset Council is pleased to be financially supporting it. The community support for this scheme is extensive and many people contacted me to lobby for the Council funding. It is excellent news that work is starting. This is a positive move forward for the promotion of sustainable transport."

Gitte Dawson, who has been chairing the Two Tunnels Steering Group which brings Council, Sustrans and the Two Tunnels Group together in implementing this scheme, said, "I am excited that we are finally putting the first spade in the ground! Lots of people have done a great deal of campaigning, fundraising, planning and publicising to get to this point. I look forward to cycling through the tunnels myself next year."

The Two Tunnels scheme is a £1.9million route that will turn a four-mile stretch of disused railway line into a walking and cycling path linking Bath and Midford. The scheme will renovate the disused Tucking Mill viaduct and open up the two long tunnels, of which one (Combe Down) is over a mile long, connecting the town and countryside for everyday journeys by foot and bike. With overwhelming support from people in and around Bath.

The virtually flat route along the old Somerset and Dorset Railway Line will bring together the communities of Bath, Midford and all the places in between. Walkers and cyclists will experience two illuminated tunnels and a magnificent viaduct along the route that provides an inspiring yet practical link between town and country, with its unique blend of industrial heritage, wildlife and geology.

The route will also link to the successful Colliers Way in the South and the Bath-Bristol cycleway in the West and create a great round-trip cycle opportunity between Bath and Midford, including the path along the Kennet & Avon Canal. The route will also form part of the National Cycle Network linking Route 3 and Route 24. On the 6th March it is the 44th anniversary of the closure of the railway line.

The route's grand opening is expected by the end of 2011. The Two Tunnels Greenway is one of many Sustrans schemes across the UK that are using a total of £50m from the Big Lottery Fund, of which this scheme will receive £1m. Bath & North East Somerset Council will be contributing £400,000 to the scheme with the remainder of the funds coming from local fundraising.