New bridge at Victoria Park opens

New bridge at Victoria Park opens

The new Sam Thompson bridge across the Connswater River in east Belfast has opened.

The pedestrian and cycle route named after the local playwright was built at Victoria Park as part of the £35m Connswater Community Greenway project.It provides a link between the park and the Belfast's Harbour Estate.Organisers hope the £500,000 bridge will provide greater access and freedom of movement in the east of the city and will help encourage people to take up cycling, with the launch coinciding with the staging of the Giro d' Italia in Northern Ireland.The opening on Friday afternoon was attended by First Minister Peter Robinson, Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín ó Muilleoir and MP for the area Naomi Long.Ms Long said: "It's a fantastic day for east Belfast."This bridge is important economically but also socially as it connects the people of east Belfast with the people of the Harbour Estate with what is a fantastic park and onwards through the linear park that is also being created as part of the greenway," the Alliance representative said.The landmark, 60 tonne steel bowstring bridge was installed last October with the help of one of Europe's biggest cranes.It was built by M Hasson & Sons and finished with LED lighting which changes colour.The name of the bridge was chosen by a public competition and some of Sam Thompson's family members were present for the opening ceremony.His niece, Abigail Dunn, said: "It's emotional in that Sam is no longer with us but it is a great day as well because it's a very nice way for Sam to be remembered."The Connswater Community Greenway (CCG) project, developed by the East Belfast Partnership, is one of three 'Living Landmark' projects in the United Kingdom and is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and the Department for Social Development.It is creating a 9km 'linear park' from the Castlereagh Hills to the Belfast Harbour Estate.First Minister and Belfast First Citizen plus relatives of Sam Thompson arrive for opening of new ConnswaterBridge pic.twitter.com/OXjqRPL9TL— Jamie Delargy(@Jamie_utv) April 4, 2014

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