A £2.1m scheme to improve cycling and walking access on a 6km section of the Rochdale Canal towpath between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden is due to start next month (April), as part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s £60m CityConnect programme aimed at encouraging more people to travel by bike or on foot.
Works will include resurfacing and widening the canal towpath, building on improvements to a 10km section between Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, and providing communities along the Calder Valley with a traffic-free, flat and attractive alternative route to the A646.
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The scheme will use Department for Transport funding secured by the Combined Authority and Calderdale Council, with additional contributions from both organisations.
It will be delivered in partnership with Canal & River Trust, the national waterways and wellbeing charity which looks after Rochdale Canal as part of their 2,000 mile network of canals and rivers.
The route, which is to form part of the Calder Valley cycle route, will add to those already constructed and under construction in the area, ultimately providing a continuous off road cycle way across Calderdale, from Brighouse to Todmorden.
Coun Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, said: “We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Calderdale Council and Canal & River Trust to improve this section of the Rochdale Canal, which will provide people travelling by bike or on foot through the valley with a safe, scenic traffic-free route all year round.
“As well as providing missing links in local cycling and walking infrastructure, these improvements – alongside other schemes across the region – are helping open up access to some of our best countryside.
“Through our CityConnect programme, the Combined Authority is working in partnership to connect people to opportunities for employment, training and leisure, and encourage more of us to travel in a way which benefits our health, the environment and our economy.”
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Strategy, Coun Barry Collins, said: “Works starting on site is a real milestone in this exciting project, which will enable us to provide a safer, traffic-free option for this busy route.
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“By creating a network of scenic cycle ways linking towns and villages across Calderdale, we can encourage more people to use active travel methods like walking and cycling.
“Once complete, this section of the project will deliver a real, attractive alternative to travel along the A646, contributing to improved air quality and reduced congestion.”
Jane Thomson, Enterprise Manager at Canal & River Trust, said: “We believe that anything you do to spend more time by water is good for your mental and physical wellbeing.
"That’s why our charity is working in partnership with West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Calderdale Council on this project, to benefit the local communities that surround the Rochdale Canal, as well as the thousands of visitors who come to enjoy this area of the Pennines.”
The works between Hebden Bridge and Todmorden are due to be completed by autumn.
The project is part of a wider package of canal towpath improvements being delivered across the region through the CityConnect programme, including between Huddersfield and Milnsbridge on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, and between Silsden and Riddlesden on the Leeds Liverpool Canal as part of the Airedale Greenway.
Improvements to a 2km section of the Calder and Hebble Navigation Towpath between Sowerby Bridge Basin and Hollas Lane Bridge, linking to the existing Calder Valley Greenway, provide a traffic free cycling and walking route towards Halifax, Elland and Brighouse.
For more information about this and other CityConnect projects visit www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/projects.