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07 June 2010

Official Opening of the First Section of the Bridgewater Way in Trafford

The official opening of the first section of the Bridgewater Way in Trafford took place on 4th June. Representatives from Trafford Council, Peel and Sustrans gathered on the newly transformed towpath which is now suitable for walkers, cyclists, buggies, fishermen; anyone who enjoys spending time along the canal side.

The official opening by the Mayor of Trafford was just one of a number of activities held along the canal last week to celebrate the opening of this section of the Bridgewater Way in Trafford. Other activities that have taken place include narrow boat trips by the Open Lock Project, walks and talks by the Ramblers’ Association and Friends of Bridgewater Canal (Sale), and guided cycle rides.

Opening of phase 1 of the Bridgewater Way in Trafford

The 2 mile stretch between Sale and Stretford is part of 12 miles of work in Trafford which will extend north of Stretford towards The Trafford Centre. This stretch is part of the Bridgewater Way, which is a unique 65 km scheme that will regenerate the canal towpath and create a new route for cyclists and pedestrians. When the £8 million project is complete it will attract over half a million visitors a year.

In addition to funding by the Bridgewater Canal Trust, the Sale to Stretford section of the towpath is one of many schemes across the UK funded by sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, using a £50m award from the Big Lottery Fund which was won in a national TV vote in 2007. A Memorandum of Understanding between Sustrans and its partners at Trafford Council and Peel was signed in December 2008. This confirmed the partners’ continued commitment to the project and pledged £250,000 from Sustrans’ lottery award to improve the towpath for cyclists and walkers and provide a series of links into the community.

The new Portrait Bench was also unveiled at the opening. The bench, featuring figures of William Bleasdale, Dr Charles White and Darren Campbell, can be found on the Bridgewater Canal towpath close to the Sale Waterside piazza.

Cllr Ken Weston, Chairman of Trafford Bridgewater Way Steering Group, said: “These celebrations mark the start of a new era for the Bridgewater Way in Trafford. The Sale-Stretford section is the first in a much bigger programme to transform the towpath in the Borough, providing all those who visit with a much improved experience of our beautiful canal. I would encourage people to come and enjoy the benefits that the Bridgewater Way has to offer and I look forward to seeing the route develop further.”

Mike Butterworth, Property Director at Peel said, “We hope that the official opening of the Bridgewater Way in Trafford will encourage people to use the towpath and enjoy the wonderful wildlife and scenery. This is just the first section of work in Trafford and we expect further sections to be open by the end of the year.”

From Malcolm Shepherd, Chief Executive of sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said "The Bridgewater Way is a fantastic walking and cycling route that anyone can use to get to work, school or the shops or even just for some leisure time by the canal. It is clearly going to be valued and well used by the local community and is a vital transport link so that people in Trafford have more choice about how they travel. Today we are demonstrating that with good understanding of people's local transport needs, we can really make a difference and make healthier, more environmentally-friendly ways of travel the obvious choice for everyday journeys."

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