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Park Academy pupils bridge the gap

Friday, February 28, 2014, is a day which will live long in the memories of 30 children from Boston's Park Academy.

They were the lucky 30 chosen to be the very first to cross The Haven on the new £750,000 St Botolph's Footbridge, marking the official opening of the bridge to the public.

The excited children, aged 10 and 11, were first to step foot onto the new bridge, each armed with a helium-filled balloon to release when they reached the very centre.

As they finished the first historic crossing each child was given a special individual certificate bearing their name by Boston Borough Council. They were presented to the children by Jo Christmas, owner of Bizzarro's Restaurant and Allison Gott, manager at Goodbarns Yard pub, both in Wormgate.

Cllrs Mary Wright and Carol Taylor, Boston Borough Council members for Witham ward - the ward the bridge is in - said the bridge, linking two sides of the town, marked a new beginning for the two trading streets closest to it and closed a chapter after the dreadful December floods. Wormgate and Church Street, with their cobbled road surfaces and independent traders, offer a traditional shopping experience rich in heritage and history. Traders in both streets had been hit hard by the December 5 tidal surge.

Shop owners are hoping the new bridge, providing an ancient and modern contrast, will lead to a renaissance for them, with new shoppers attracted by the new structure, especially when it is illuminated.

Lincolnshire County Council's portfolio holder for highways, Cllr Richard Davies, said the bridge was something all could be proud of. He said it was more than just a bridge - it would be a meeting place and a viewing platform and affirmed the importance of Boston in the continuing and future development of the county. He thanked the children for playing their part in the opening and praised the engineers and workmen who constructed the bridge.

Boston's Deputy Mayor Cllr Paul Goodale cut the ribbon and officially declared the bridge open.

Bridge ribbon cutting Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

He said: "It's a fantastic structure. It is modern but has graceful lines reflective of older bridges and contrasts with the ancient of the Stump. It's all British - British steel, British design, British engineering and even British paint - and partly funded with European money. If we hadn't had it spent here in Boston that would have been spent somewhere else in Europe."

After the children had crossed the bridge several times Ebony Abbott (11), Kayleigh Donn (11), Jekaterina Strokina (11) agreed: "It's much better than the old bridge - its wide and brighter."

Ugne Simonyte (11) and Dilanas Lukosevicius (10) said: "We feel very proud to have been the very first people to cross it and be at the opening."

The main central span was lowered into place on Saturday evening by a giant crane capable of handling loads up to 1,000 tonnes. The bridge had been delivered in sections to a construction site on the riverbank near the White Hart and had been assembled there.

The cost of the bridge has been met by Lincolnshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund.

Lincolnshire County Council has said it had to close the bridge for a few days immediately following the opening event to allow the handrail and functional lighting to be fitted.

"This is a matter that is out of our control as we are waiting for specialist parts to be delivered. We are anticipating the bridge to be open for normal pedestrian use by early next week," said a county council spokesman.

See film of the bridge opening on Boston Borough Council's You Tube channel.

County councillor walking with children Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window  Bridge certificates Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window