Council gives final go-ahead to long-planned Sustrans-funded project

Council officials are reportedly set to give final approval on the £1.9 million Sustrans-backed Two Tunnels Greenway route in Bath, which will see two former railway tunnels opened up to cyclists and walkers.

The news comes as relief to campaigners who have been fighting for several years to convert the tunnels and the four-mile stretch of former railway lines that includes them to cycling and pedestrian use and link the city with Midford.

Last month, we reported how the Two Tunnels campaign group had organised a walk along the proposed route to demonstrate to Bath and North East Somerset Council the level of support for the project ahead of a key planning decision, and now the Bath Chronicle reports that council officers are set to sign a memorandum of understanding for it to go ahead.

Most of the funding for the project is being provided by Sustrans, with £1 million being made available from the Big Lottery Fund and £222,240 from Connect 2 Schools. The council is contributing £400,000 towards the cost, while £290,000 will be provided from other sources.

Frank Thompson of the Two Tunnels Group told the Bath Chronicle: "It has been a very long road to get to this point, adding that “the path will provide a huge benefit for local people, cyclists and walkers alike, including many schoolchildren, and provide a boost for tourism, too.”

Patrick Tully, senior engineer for the project at Bristol-based Sustrans, said that the sustainable transport charity was eager to start turning the plans into reality, commenting: "We are very pleased with the progress that is being made to make the decision for the Two Tunnels scheme to go ahead.

“We look forward to signing the finalised paperwork very soon and getting on site so we can start making this route a reality and the local communities can start to benefit from it."

Liberal Democrat Councillor Roger Symonds, cycling champion at Bath and North East Somerset Council, also welcomed the news. "There have been times when I really didn't think we would get here,” he told the newspaper.

“There seemed to be a lack of urgency on the part of the council, but now Sustrans can really get going. Two Tunnels is a fantastic project and will put Bath on the map as far as cycling goes. The council must now get on with the planned cycling improvements throughout the city to make it safer for the thousands of cyclists who will be attracted to Bath to use the Two Tunnels," he concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.