WORK is set to start on a £5.1million phase of a cycling project in the heart of Warwickshire this month.
A contractor has been appointed to deliver improvements to Route 41 of the National Cycle Network – known as the Lias Line – which runs between Rugby and Leamington.
Currall Lewis & Martin Construction Ltd (CLM) will deliver the work – which has not yet been fully costed – in three phases.
Phase one will see the creation of a completely new sealed surface off-road stretch of track. This will follow the ‘branch line’ of the old Lias Line railway route creating a more direct connection between the Offchurch Greenway and Long Itchington.
Subject to funding, the second phase of the work – estimated to cost some £3.4million – will make use of the old railway ‘main line’ to create a new off-road track to improve connectivity with Birdingbury and other nearby villages. This will include a replacement bridge over the A423 at Marton.
The third and final phase will follow the branch line route south to the Stockton reservoir.
When phase one is complete, around 4km of on-road cycling route between Offchurch Greenway and Long Itchington will be replaced with nearly 5.5km of off-road track, improving the safety of the route.
The route will also form part of Warwickshire’s longest traffic-free greenway for leisure and commuter purposes.
The Lias Line was selected for improvement following a review of the National Cycle Network in 2019.
A review entitled ‘Paths for Everyone’ review, carried out by walking and cycling charity Sustrans which is overseeing the project, found much of the off-road sections were overgrown and had a poor surface.
The existing path will also be severed by HS2.
Sustrans spokeswoman Carmen Szeto said: “The National Cycle Network belongs to everyone and it can help all of us to lead happier, healthier lives. That’s why I’m so excited by this project which will transform provision for cycling, walking and horse riding in Warwickshire. Clearly, we have been delayed by the pandemic but we’re now back on track and raring to go. Throughout this project we’ve worked closely with the local community to ensure we have a project which works for everyone. The result will be something truly special which we can all be proud of.”
Visit www.sustrans.org.uk/find-a-route-on-the-national-cycle-network/lias-line for more information.