Major improvements to the shared-use path between Sandown and Newport are to begin next month.
Island Roads is undertaking three separate schemes to install new bridge decks at two locations and to create a new 100-metre causeway in the third – and largest – of the projects which will also mean the new route can be used by horse-riders.
The work is being undertaken over the winter period to avoid the months when the cycleway is in greatest use.
The most ambitious project is to replace 100 metres of timber decking at the Horringford Boardwalk with a new stone causeway.
The design uses lightweight aggregate inside gabion baskets and has been approved by the Environment Agency.
This solution will provide a more durable structure than the previous wooden piled boardwalk that was within very wet ground and prone to deterioration given its location on the River Yar’s flood plain.
Though the projects in the main are being financed using government grant under the Highways Improvement Programme, the IW Council has contributed extra funding to the Horringford scheme to widen the causeway making it suitable for horses.
Joanne Saunders, a project manager on Island Roads’ structures team said: “The key to the scheme was finding a design that was durable enough to provide a long-term solution in some very wet terrain and which would both provide a suitable surface for cyclists and also be acceptable to the Environment Agency.
“What we have agreed will provide a lasting improvement to this much-used bridleway/Public Right of Way and cycle route and will underline the Island’s credentials as a cycle-friendly place for residents and visitors.”
The Horringford project is due to begin on November 5 and last for up to 20 weeks during which the path will be closed between East Lane, Merstone and Stickworth Lane, Arreton with a diversion in place.
The two other projects being undertaken will see the decks replaced and other steps taken to improve the condition and durability of B310 Haseley Bridge and B311 Blackrock Bridge. Both projects are due to begin on November 5 and last up to ten weeks. The creation of a temporary footbridge will ensure that B311 will remain open at all times but a local diversion will be in place in respect of the B310.
Joanne said: “We have endeavoured to reduce the impact on the users during these works but would ask the public to respect the diversions that are necessary at Haseley and Horringford bridges as keeping the work site free of traffic will help us to complete this improvement work as quickly and as safely as possible.”
The projects have been welcomed by Councillor Ian Ward, IW Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport.
Cllr Ward said: “We shouldn’t forget that the Highways Improvement has enabled us to improve our cycleways as well as our road network.
“These works will provide a further significant upgrade of our cycleway network which is good news both for the increasing number of cyclists and also for the environment.
“The route at Horringford was previously unsuitable for horses so by widening the Causeway and using new materials we are delighted to be extending the network that can be enjoyed by the equestrian community.”