WIMMERA River Improvement Committee chairman Gary Aitken is thrilled the group’s eight-year mission for a new footbridge over the river in Horsham has come to fruition.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced $500,000 for the footbridge on Friday.
Horsham Rural City Council will contribute $500,000 and a Southbank developer will contribute $200,000.
The bridge will be built one kilometre west of the Wimmera River bridges on Stawell Road, Horsham.
Mr Aitkin said the committee had lobbied for a new bridge for more than eight years.
“We’ve been going at this for quite some time. We first pitched the idea to council in 2006,” he said.
“But then the river dried up and we wondered what we needed a bridge for.
“We were ready again with the idea when the water came back and now we have finally got there.”
Mr Aitkin said the site of the bridge was debated for some time.
“Once we decided to move forward with the project we invited community members to submit their thoughts,” he said.
“We wanted everyone to have a say.”
Mr Aitkin said they eventually decided the footbridge should be between two major bridges – the Wimmera River bridges on Stawell Road and a planned bridge at the end of Bennett Road.
“We also wanted to keep it away from the rowing course,” he said.
“The area has potential for future development – it’s away from the traffic and hopefully one day there will be a coffee shop here too.”
Mayor David Grimble said the bridge would allow pedestrians to access the best parts of the city.
“It will create access for students going to school and for people just having a stroll around the river,” he said.
“The water is the lifeline of the community and Horsham became Horsham because of the river.”
Cr Grimble said the bridge would benefit a residential development on the south side of the river.
Mr Ryan said it was difficult to believe a footbridge would cost $1.2 million.
He said the bridge would provide multiple benefits.
“Southbank residents will have easy access to Horsham’s shops, schools, sport centres, health care services and other community infrastructure,” he said.
“No longer will people have to walk more than a kilometre to the existing bridge to gain access to the central business district.
“This new bridge will provide a significant boost for the community, businesses and residents living in the growing Southbank residential precinct.”
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