A NEW 36-metre bridge providing a vital pedestrian link from Darlington rail station was officially opened yesterday.

The new Parkgate bridge is now open to pedestrians and cyclists and crosses the busy street in a single span, providing quick and safe access from the station to the Central Park and Haughton Road areas.

As well as putting the new bridge in place, the area alongside the railway line and to the rear of the East End club has been opened up and landscaped with trees and shrubs to create a more pleasant and tidy walking route to the station.

The project has been funded jointly by Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) and Darlington Borough Council and delivered as part of the Sustainable Access to Employment programme.

The bridge was opened by Councillor Nick Wallis, cabinet member for leisure and local environment.

He said: “The opening of Parkgate Bridge is the culmination of many months of hard work and planning all aimed at making sure we have a safer and easier entrance to Darlington station to benefit everyone.”

Julie McCartney, Tees Valley Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Manager, said: “We realise the importance of this project, and its benefits, which is why we put forward almost £1million of funding. The better access that it provides will also support our wider vision for the station’s complete transformation.

“The timing couldn’t be better. Our investment in the landmark £22.3million National Horizons Centre will soon be paying off when it opens its doors in Central Park soon. This bridge will more closely link the station and the growing life sciences hub, already home to the National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, which is central to this emerging sector.”

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and building a Britain fit for the future.

“The Parkgate Bridge being opened today is a significant milestone for Darlington. Thanks to £945,0000 investment from the Local Growth Fund, residents and visitors will not only enjoy safer and better access to Darlington Station but also improved links between growing businesses on the nearby Central Park and this key transport hub. Enhancing connectivity, both for residents and the local economy, is fundamental to the Government’s vision for a stronger Northern Powerhouse.”