The snip that slashed a journey by 24 minutes...
Source: Steve Loader
A ribbon was cut and a journey that once took 25 minutes was simultaneously slashed to less than a minute.
This symbolic act was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, the Viscount De L’Isle MBE (pictured - centre of picture) as he declared a £19 million bridge over the River Medway in Kent officially open.
Apart from the 1960s M2 motorway bridge, it is the first time in centuries that Kent’s greatest river has been permanently bridged between its populous upper reaches and Aylesford village – some eight miles away.
The Lord Lieutenant, who said he was pleased to note how the project had been completed within budget and on time, earlier unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of Peters Bridge, named after the family who ran the area’s former cement works and quarries and a new 1,000-home community known as Peters Village, now arising from this brown field site.
Part of a £50 million infrastructure built by developer Trenport Investments and aided by £19.5 million of loan funding from the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency, the bridge serves the future residents of Peters Village, plus the existing villages of Wouldham, Burham and Eccles on the river’s east bank and Halling on the west.
Halling and Wouldham are closest to the bridge and were previously 25 minutes apart by road, a foot ferry having stopped running in the 1960s. The villages were also briefly connected by a military Bailey Bridge during WWII.
At the new bridge opening Kent County Council cabinet member Matthew Balfour praised the tireless work of all those involved in finally making this permanent connection; Medway Council Leader Cllr Alan Jarrett said he expected Peters Bridge to eventually become as important as its older equivalent eight miles downriver at Rochester; while Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council Leader Nicolas Heslop called it a proud day.
Trenport MD Tony Parson said it was more than a river crossing: “It links three local authorities, creates the access way to a new community and provides significant improvements to the amenities and communications between the existing nearby settlements. It will in the future, I hope, be viewed as a classic example of the public and private sectors working together for the common good.”