A VITAL transport link across the River Weaver has reopened after six years.

The new Riversdale Swing Bridge, which leads from Hunt’s Lock into The Crescent and Sir John Deane’s college, was officially opened last Friday by representatives from Cheshire West and Chester Council, Sustrans and the Big Lottery Fund.

The bridge was closed in 2004 after British Waterways deemed it unsafe, cutting the link between Hartford and Leftwich for hundreds of Mid Cheshire College and Sir John Deane’s students. However, the new bridge and towpath will re-establish the direct link for walkers and cyclists.

Clr Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The people of Northwich have been without this important link for six years and from this point on can easily get to school, college and work.

“I hope the residents enjoy the reopening and hopefully reduce the use of the car. This has been a complex project and I congratulate Barhale – the main contractor – who worked closely with the council.

“The completed swing bridge and connecting routes are a testament to the hard work and perseverance of all the partners involved. “ The £1.4 million bridge has been funded by CWAC and the charity, Sustrans – whose Connect2 project received £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund following a public vote in 2007.

Helen Bullough, Big Lottery Fund head of region for North West, said: “This is great news as the new bridge will make it all that bit easier to make everyday journeys by foot or bike.”

All the components for the bridge had to be transported down the River Weaver on pontoons.

It is 45 metres long, supported by 10 steel tie rods, weighs 50 tonnes and takes seven minutes to open.

Clr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: “We have honoured our commitment to local residents to put in place a bridge replacement and I might add in a record time as planning permission was granted less than 12 months ago.

• To celebrate the opening of the bridge, a lantern parade will be take place at 7pm tonight, Wednesday, from the car park at the back of Northwich Memorial Hall.