Sparling Bridge Reconnects Communities

The official opening of the new Sparling Bridge over the River Cree takes place on Saturday 30 November.

Almost four years ago the original bridge was damaged by the severe flooding caused by Storm Frank.

Since then Cree Valley Community Council has worked closely with Dumfries and Galloway Council to replace the old structure with a modern, more fit for purpose and attractive crossing.

In March 2017 the Community Council carried out a community consultation on the preferred site of the bridge and has tirelessly campaigned for a new bridge on the chosen site.

The combined pedestrian and cycle bridge will be accessible to all and will provide a cycle link as part of the National Cycle Network.

The new bridge will restore a vital crossing over the River Cree, reconnecting the communities of Newton Stewart and Minnigaff.

The project is jointly funded by Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Places for Everyone Programme and has been designed by engineering and design consultancy Sweco.

Councillor Andy Ferguson, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, said: “I’m delighted that the bridge is now in place and the communities of Newton Stewart and Minnigaff are now fully connected once again. As a Council, we continually speak of connecting communities and working with volunteers and community groups to achieve our goals. Nothing shows this in a better context than the Sparling Bridge project. I’m very much looking forward to the opening ceremony.”

Councillor John Martin, Vice Chair, said: “I’d like to place on record my thanks to all our partners and community groups for making this project such a success. It seems hard to believe it was almost four years since the terrible floods damaged the old bridge. We listened to the community and have provided a first class structure for pedestrians and cyclists to use for many years to come.”

Benn Isherwood, Operations Manager at Sweco, said: “The new Sparling Bridge is a major asset to the local community. As the designer, it’s been our job to translate the vision of the community and the insight of the variety of groups involved into a physical piece of engineering, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see this collaborative effort come to life. The communities on both sides of the river now have an important connection that doesn’t just provide a convenient crossing point, but which has been developed to withstand the risk of the river flooding in the future and has been carefully designed to limit its impact on the local ecosystem.”

John MacArthur, Managing Director of Story Scotland, said: “We’re proud to have been chosen to deliver such an important civil engineering project in Dumfries and Galloway, helping to restore an essential crossing for the community. One of the reasons this project has been a success was the collaborative approach adopted by all key stakeholders. Working together as a team with Dumfries and Galloway Council, Sustrans and the Community Council, we have re-instated a critical infrastructure link for the town. The new bridge will be a testimony to the skill and dedication of all involved for many years to come.”

The opening ceremony, which is being organised by Cree Valley Community Council, starts at 1400 [2pm] and will be followed by entertainment in the McMillan Hall and the Christmas lights switch on at 1815 [6.15pm].

Chair of Cree Valley Community Council, Clifford Smithers, said; “We’re highly delighted with the new bridge. We’d like to thank the communities for their patience. You are all aware that this bridge has been a long time coming, however, I’m sure you’ll agree it has been worth the wait. Cree Valley Community Council would like to offer their sincere thanks to Dumfries and Galloway Council, Sweco, Story, Sustrans, and the Scottish Government. We all look forward to the opening of the new bridge.”

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