I attended a stakeholder meeting about the Bridge of Reeds scheme at the beginning of April. This proposed bridge, to be built over the A14 near Quy, is intended to be an iconic vision for the East of England to be enjoyed by the occupants of the 60 000 vehicles which pass the spot every day. The preferred route for the bridge would be to cross the A14 on the line of the disused railway line, but a second option would be at the site of the present Honey Hill bridge. If funding is obtained, a planning application would be put in during the winter of 2006 with construction to start in 2008-2009.
However, there are many problems. Of course, number one is funding and the possibility of rising costs. The second major problem is land ownership. If rights of public access to the disused railway line and other connections between existing paths are not forthcoming, this will be a bridge to nowhere! There is an existing path which leads off High Ditch Road, over the A14 at Honey Hill and veers round to meet the Fen Ditton to Waterbeach Road opposite the drive to Biggin Abbey, but without the connection along the railway line the vision of leisure routes, for cycling and walking to Lode, Anglesey Abbey, Reach and even right up to Wicken, is just a pipe dream.
But if rights of access are obtained the opportunities are great, including joining up with the Sustrans route alongside the Cam when the new bridge across the river is built at Upware.
Other points raised at the meeting included the need to minimise the effect of traffic in Fen Ditton, convenient access to the bridge itself and possible threats to the design of the bridge because of safety concerns.
The eventual vision is for the Bridge of Reeds to open up all the land up to Wicken Fen and the vision for Wicken Fen is to acquire up to 4000 hectares of farmland to the south of the Fen right down to the A14 to create a huge area of fenland and unique natural habitat.
This vision is for the next one hundred years. I hope this vision can be realised and that we and our descendants can enjoy this green lung outside our expanding city. And I hope that in one hundred years’ time it is fresh, and not salt water, that feeds the fenland!