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12 March 2010

Veolia Mardyke Bridge Opening - Linking Thurrock and Rainham

Local dignitaries, community representatives and school children joined together to celebrate the opening of the new Veolia Mardyke Bridge today (Friday, 12 March 2010). 

The bridge which was officially opened by Andrew Mackinlay MP and the Mayor of Thurrock, Cllr Maureen Pearce, will provide a direct pedestrian and cycle link from the Garrison Estate in Purfleet to the neighbouring RSPB Rainham Marshes.

A group of 10 year six pupils from Stifford Primary School took part in the ceremony, together with members of Gateway Cycling Club. 

The bridge forms part of the Thames Estuary Path and the Riverside Path and National Cycle Network Route 13 which will run from London to Southend and is seen as an important part of the Thames Gateway plans.

It is also a key project in the “South Essex Way”, a cycle/pedestrian route linking the River Thames along the Mardyke to Davy Down, and beyond.

Following the feasibility study, which was funded by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (TTGDC), the Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust generously provided £259,000 for the new bridge in partnership with £180,000 Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) Parklands administered by Essex County Council.

The 21 ton bridge crosses the Mardyke at its tributary and required agreement from the Port of London Authority as it is officially a new bridge over the Thames.

Adjacent to the bridge is a major piece of public art, the Sun Arch, together with two pairs of ‘wave seats’ that were designed by artist Edward Allington and fabricated by Andrew Everett.

The art work was commissioned by Commissions East and funded by TTGDC and Parklands to celebrate the creation of this unique meeting place.

Thurrock Council will take responsibility for long term maintenance of the bridge and surrounding area.

Sustrans has project managed this multi-partner programme with support from RSPB, TTGDC, Thurrock Council, Purfleet on Thames Forum, Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust, Commissions East and Homes and Community Agency Parklands funding administered by Essex County Council.

In addition Thurrock Council and TTGDC Community Fund enabled improvements to the nearby Purfleet Heritage Centre car park which is now accessible by a new ramp and steps directly from the bridge.

The bridge opening was followed by a tour of the Purfleet Heritage Centre and speeches from Andrew Mackinlay MP, Sunny Crouch OBE on behalf of TTGDC; Charlie Curtis, Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust; Nigel Brigham, Sustrans and John Meehan, Essex County Council in the Proof House, Centurion Way, Purfleet.

Commenting on the opening, Charlie Curtis, chair of Veolia ES Cleanaway Mardyke Trust, said; “This is a fantastic day, and a huge achievement by everyone involved.

“I hope everyone in Thurrock will come and enjoy this lovely river walk and visit such a wonderful area."

Speaking on the public art, Sunny Crouch OBE, board member, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation said; “The first regeneration project the Development Corporation ever funded was the RSPB centre itself and it gives me the greatest of pleasure to represent the Corporation at the opening of this bridge which will make the centre more accessible to local people.

“We hope the sculpture and seating we have provided here will be not only much admired but also well used by families having picnics or just enjoying a sit down in the fresh air of this wonderful place. We congratulate the artist, Edward Allington, on his inspired and useful adornment to our Thurrock countryside.”

John Meehan, Parklands Project Manager, Essex County Council added; “Essex County Council is delighted to see the Parklands programme transforming the way people think about South Essex.

“RSPB has been a fantastic partner, it has not only improved the marshes for vast flocks of birds and numerous rare species, but has also considered the ‘people’ part of their work.

“The Veolia Mardyke bridge directly links the people of Purfleet to one of the most important marshes and nature reserves in South Essex.  In addition it allows cyclists and walkers to explore the Thames Estuary Path.  This is precisely what the Parklands programme was designed to do and our Government sponsors the Homes and Communities Agency is equally delighted.”

Cllr Neil Rockcliffe, Thurrock Council cabinet member for transport, commented; "Thurrock Council is proud to have worked with the many partners involved to support and deliver the new Veolia Mardyke Bridge.

"It provides a much-improved walking and cycling link for local people and allows for easier access along the riverfront in Thurrock and beyond."

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