The Department for Infrastructure has confirmed it is “taking steps” with regards the possibility of replacing the Moylinn footbridge in Craigavon.
It was demolished, given its condition, over the St Patrick’s weekend in March.
The move was met with concern and, indeed, anger by some local political representatives and public alike.
There were complaints that inadequate notice was given over the intention to remove the bridge, with claims that councillors were only informed at the last moment.
And there were cross-party calls for it to be restored, as it was seen as an essential resource for young people, dog walkers and those using the South Lake Leisure Centre.
It was at its meeting at the end of February when councillors were provided with correspondence from DfI advising Moylinn East footbridge was “beyond economic repair”.
The council then subsequently wrote to the Department for Infrastructure, complaining of the late notice and also saying it was imperative a new footbridge be erected in its place.
And it would appear that there has already been some movement in that regards.
For a new letter going to ABC Council tonight (Monday), shows that discussions have begun.
Southern Divisional Roads Manager Mark McPeak has provided an update in these terms: “I can confirm that the Department is taking steps to take forward the potential of a replacement footbridge and has engaged with council planning to seek early advice on the need to take forward planning permission.
“The Department will keep council informed of its progress towards the potential of a replacement all of which will be subject to a successful business case and the need to secure funding.”
With regards to the fast turnaround in relation to the demolition of the footbridge, he has defended the timing and outlined the process on how, why and when the decision was reached.
Mr McPeak, in his letter, has added: “Following a period of continual monitoring and increasing concern by the Department, it was decided in the spring of 2022, that an ‘expert’ consultant opinion should be sought to inform the Department’s decision making in respect of the footbridge.
“In summer 2022 the consultant concluded that the bridge was stable but was in very poor condition and that the bridge needed to be removed in a managed and controlled manner within 12 months before it presented any risk to users.
“The Department then took steps to align a package of works to construct an alternative link which needed to be completed by the time the bridge would be removed.
“The final decision to remove the bridge in March 2023 was taken in December 2022, at which time contractors still needed to be appointed to carry out the complex works, ecology surveys needed to be completed etc.
“It was only one month before the demolition works were due to commence on site that sufficient certainty in the planning process was achieved that enabled an announcement to be made.
“The Department considers that elected representatives were informed as soon as practicable and at a point when confirmation of the work was going ahead, that being the release of a press release on 14 February and a presentation to DEA Councillors on 16 February.”