The council’s executive committee this morning approved the allotment of £3.7m in funding from Sustrans, the walking and cycling charity, for the creation of an active travel network in Hawick to run alongside the town’s ongong flood protection scheme.
Central to the project will be the spending of £2m on a new four metre wide footbridge linking Weensland Road and Mansfield Road.
The announcement was welcomed as a game-changer by town councillors today.
Stuart Marshall, chair of the Hawick Flood Group, said: “There has been such a strong feeling in Hawick for a bridge there for so long. It was first mooted way back in the 1960s by the late councillor Bill Douglas and I think that anyone who goes down that area of Hawick who comes from the Weensland or the Burnfoot end they have all been crying out for a bridge and it’s great that we have now found a way to spend money very wisely from the Sustrans budget.
"It is going to be such a vital link. It will be the last bridge in the town before Hornshole and it will connect that part of town and serve both areas for a very long time to come.
"We have a very busy industrial estate and a lot of employees have to go a long way round to get home to Weensland and now we will encourage them to leave their cars in the good weather to walk and enjoy the new cycleways.
"I take my hat off to everyone who has been part of campaigns, past and present, to get a bridge there. Its been a huge joint effort by the community.”
Town provost, Watson McAteer speaking at today’s committee, said: “This £3.7m will create wider neighbourhood connections and will bring a £2m footbridge at Lower Mansfield connecting Weensland, something we have been waiting for for more than one hundred years. This is a very important initiative for Hawick.”
Funding will also pay for a new network of paths, providing greater connectivity between the main river corridor and the town.