BRITISH Waterways is to improve access to the Weaver Valley for communities and visitors with a new horse friendly bridge across the river at Dutton Locks.
The public right of way on both sides of the bridge is well-used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders, forming part of the Sustrans sustainable travel network and a significant local riding route.
Work is set for completion in early November. Access for pedestrians and cyclists will be moved to a temporary pontoon bridge later this month, with the new route clearly signed. The temporary pontoon bridge will not be suitable for horses.
The car parking area at Acton Bridge will be required by contractors for loading and storage. The Leigh Arms pub has alternative parking, subject to availability.
The £1.15m project involves replacing the existing life expired bridge across Dutton Lock sluice channel with:
A fixed steel structure set on three fixed spans with a curved elevation to afford vessel access;
new abutments and approach ramps;
steel sheet piles protecting the foundations from scouring by powerful river currents;
specially constructed deck, conforming to British Horse Society design guidance.
British Waterways has worked with Cheshire West & Cheshire Council to produce a design which is sympathetic and in keeping with the rural setting.
The sluice channel is an important maintenance point for controlling water levels on this section of the river, in addition to the removal of potentially hazardous river debris.
The new bridge will have no expensive moving parts: instead, its curved elevation will afford operational craft access to the vital downstream sluices.
The bridge provides access to the lock island, which houses a lock keeper’s office and four cottages.
From the island, the track continues over Dutton Lower Horse Bridge and across the sluice outlet channel on to the north river bank, linking up with other bridleway routes downstream.