The new footbridge replacing the old Alma Bridge in Sidmouth has been officially opened today (Friday 9 October).
Devon County Council’s new 19-metre span bridge and viewing areas have been developed over the past year – 40 metres inland from the site of the original structure.
The historic Alma Bridge, which dated from the early 1900s, was damaged during severe floods in 2012. The structure was removed from site in May this year.
Devon County Council Chairman Stuart Barker was joined by Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and County Councillor for Sidmouth, for the official opening of the new bridge at a special ceremony.
Devon County Council Chairman Stuart Barker said: “This is a very impressive new asset for the town and its design means it is accessible for everyone. The project has been a big undertaking, with cliff re-profiling and stabilisation work alongside the construction of the structure itself. This new bridge will maintain an essential link to the South West Coast Path, which provides significant economic benefit for the town. I think everyone involved in this project can be proud of what has been achieved.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management and County Councillor for Sidmouth, said: “It’s nice to see this project come to fruition after working on getting a new bridge for many years. This is a fitting replacement for the Alma Bridge. It maintains vital access to the seafront for residents east of the town, as well as providing the gateway to the South West Coast Path which is extremely important for the town. The location of the original bridge unfortunately meant that it was always on borrowed time and we would need to look at a crossing further inland. A lot of work has gone into the design and construction of this new structure and it’s a major achievement.”
Councillor Ian Barlow, Chair of Sidmouth Town Council, said: “This is a great way to start the enhancement of not just the Ham, but the Eastern end of our seafront, and hopefully it will be a catalyst to further the regeneration of this underused area and bring it up to the high standards we have become accustomed in the rest of the town. The County Council has shown that working with us as a local Town Council benefits us all and our thanks must got to them for this forward looking plan and the substantial investment involved on our behalf and for the generations to come.”
Although contemporary in design, the bridge features curved and profiled ‘rib’ parapet posts to giving a nautical appearance relevant to coastal locations. The east side abutment and ramp structure has curved ends, softening its appearance and emergence from the sandstone cliffs. This structure is clad in Purbeck Blue limestone which has been selected to match the existing walling on the east side and is one of the strata found on the Jurassic Coast.
Access to the bridge from both sides is via short sections of relatively steep ramp, to ensure accessibility. The gradient of the access ramps match the average gradient of Hanger path on the east side.
An information panel has been located on the west side of the bridge to commemorate and mark the position of the original structure. The information panel consists of reclaimed bricks, copings and finials, to replicate the ornate parapet feature from the original Alma bridge.
Contractor MacPlant Construction Ltd has undertaken the work on behalf of Devon County Council.
The Ham recreational area adjacent to the site will remain closed until the spring to provide time for turfing to become established.