THE delays are over and Gosport’s new ferry pontoon finally opened to the public this morning.
On Saturday the £5m pontoon was floated over to the ferry terminal from Flathouse Quay, where it has been waiting near the port.
Following finishing touches yesterday, it officially threw open its doors at 5am today to travellers making the trip across the harbour.
After a difficult journey across the North Sea from the Netherlands where it was built, and a week in Margate because of rough seas, local people said they were pleased to see it finally in place.
Councillor Mark Hook, the leader of Gosport Borough Council, said the pontoon was the beginning of what he hoped would be a complete overhaul of the Gosport waterfront.
He said: ‘This is the first small piece of a jigsaw which will ultimately lead to massive redevelopment of the area.
‘I’m delighted that finally work has completely finished, and the travelling public now have a decent pontoon which they can be proud of.
‘It is a great improvement on what was there before and I’m sure people will see the difference.
‘Now when they come into the harbour they will see the gateway to Gosport, and it will hopefully be an attractive and welcoming sight.’
The pontoon was originally due to be installed in April, and after travelling hundreds of miles it arrived on Friday.
On Saturday evening the new walkway was lifted to the correct position and height by a crane.
Anthony Arnold, 64, of Heritage Way, Gosport, watched as the pontoon was carefully manoeuvred into place.
‘It’s an impressive sight to look at,’ he said. ‘You don’t see this sort of thing every day so I thought I would come down.
‘We had to wait for a while but it looks like it was worth it. Now when people arrive they will immediately be impressed and it will make a good impression.’
The old pontoon was dismantled and taken away at about 10pm on Friday.
Construction firm Trant then took it to Portchester Creek for disposal.
For more details about how the ferry service will operate while the new pontoon is being installed visit gosportferry.co.uk.