TWO communities split by a river have been joined – by the installation of the world’s longest flexi bridge.
Sited in the west of Waterlooville, the new FlexiArch connects those living in Taylor Wimpey’s development Wellington Park, and the Grainger development, Berewood.
Both were split from each other by the River Wallington.
Theresa McSweeney, 71, lives at Berewood and was delighted now the bridge is in place.
She said: ‘This bridge will benefit us massively.
‘Up until now all school traffic had to come down Grainger Road, and it’s very busy.’
The FlexiArch spans 53ft across the river, and is made up of 17 sections of pre-cast concrete, each one-metre wide and weighing 16 tonnes.
Its completion means those living at both developments no longer have to take the 1.5 mile round trip, via Hambledon Road near the Asda roundabout, to get to either side.
The FlexiArch was due for completion in 2015, but delays occurred after Taylor Wimpey changed phase five of its development from an industrial area into more homes.
It’s thought the bridge will reduce traffic on the roads near 550-home project Wellington Park, and 3,000-home project Berewood.
Patricia Stallard, who represents the southern parishes of Winchester City Council, said: ‘The bridge gets its name FlexiArch because it’s made up of a number of different components, like a modular bridge with sections.
‘It’s beautifully designed, I love the curve and the shape of it, and that local, natural flint has been used in the side walls.’
The mayors of Havant Borough Council and Winchester City Council opened the bridge during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Cllr Caroline Brook, portfolio holder for built environment at Winchester’s council, said: ‘Building started about three years ago, the bridge is going to be amazing for the two communities, which can now become one.
‘If you live at Wellington Park and have a child who attends Berewood Primary School, you had to use Hambledon Road to get to and from the school – now that won’t be the case.’
The bridge was made by civil engineers at Queens University, Belfast, with concrete specialists Macrete.
It will help cut down the time it takes pupils and parents walking to school.