We have been following with considerable interest the development of plans for a new Cambridge river crossing, between the former Simoco site in Chesterton and Riverside (near to the Museum of Technology).
This will be the first new bridge across the River Cam within Cambridge since the Elizabeth Way bridge was opened in 1971, and it will open up a valuable new route for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
The planned location was chosen following a workshop in April 2002 and an initial public consultation later that year.
Then, late in 2003, the County Council ran an architectural competition (organised by Peterborough City Environment Trust), to choose the concept for the bridge. Six design partnerships were invited to enter the competition. The brief sought a “striking modern landmark”, with a minimum lifetime of 120 years. It specified a minimum usable width for the cycleway of 2.25 m, and for the pedestrian walkway of 1.25 m. (The corresponding figures for the bridge across the railway by Cambridge station are 2.54 m and 1.63 m.)
Early in March, the competition judges met to select the competition winner, and I was pleased to represent the Cycling Campaign on that judging panel.
The winning entry was designed by WhitbyBird (designers of York’s Millennium Bridge) and sculptor Gerry Judah. It will be a striking curved steel arch bridge with a split-level design and a seating area.
This bridge was also the most popular in the Council’s public consultation on the designs, with the complete separation of pedestrians and cyclists being particularly welcomed.
The next phase is for detailed design work on the winning bridge, which is expected to cost close to £2 million. If all goes well, the County Council hopes to start building the bridge early in 2005, and they are saying it could be open by early 2006.
Part of the challenge of the next stage will be the detailed design of the bridge’s landing on to Riverside, particularly in finding a convenient way for cyclists wanting to head east, to join the Jubilee cycleway. There definitely seems to be a willingness to investigate the possible implementation of environmental improvements to Riverside (such as closure to through-traffic) in time for the opening of the new bridge. We would of course welcome such a move very strongly indeed.