Mayor to officially open £1.2 million Rugby Viaduct Cycleway

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The £1.2 million Rugby Viaduct Cycleway will be officially opened by the town’s Mayor later this month.

The project, a partnership between Rugby Borough Council, sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Warwickshire County Council and St Modwen Properties, links Newbold with Rugby railway station and the town centre via the historic viaduct which spans Leicester Road and the River Avon.

The borough council has invested more than £300,000 in the cycleway.

The project was one of 50 throughout the UK given the go ahead after Sustrans secured £70 million from the Big Lottery Fund for its Connect2 initiative.

Connect2 aims to improve links to Sustrans’ National Cycle Network.

Cllr Anthony Gillias, Mayor of Rugby, will officially open the Rugby Viaduct Cycleway on Wednesday, 17 July at 11.30am.

The cycleway starts in Newbold’s Brownsover Road and crosses the Oxford Canal - linking to the Glebe Estate - before taking cyclists and walkers over the viaduct. The grade II listed viaduct was closed in 1965, but remains one of the town’s iconic structures.

It was opened by the Midland Counties Railway in 1840 and was the brainchild of influential railway engineer Charles Vignoles. The viaduct comprises 11 arches and spans nearly 700 feet.

From the viaduct, the cycleway follows the old raised railway bank. A ramp leads down to the end of Hunters Lane before the cycleway connects with the Black Path, where the old steps to the railway bridge have been replaced by a ramp.

From there, cyclists and walkers can either head for the town centre via Park Road or the railway station via Wood Street and Railway Terrace. The whole route is accessible to wheelchair users.

The Rugby Viaduct Cycleway also includes a Portrait Bench, part of a national Sustrans project to create works of public art to commemorate local culture and history. Rugby’s Portrait Bench, located in Consul Road, features steel cut, life-size portraits of Alice, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Ralph ‘The Rugby Flyer’ Dougherty, a star rider for Rugby Cycling Club in the 1930s, and Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer, the Rugby-born scientist and astronomer who jointly discovered the gas helium.

All three were voted for by the public.

Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for economy, development and culture, said: “The Rugby Viaduct Cycleway will bring a lasting benefit to Rugby residents and supports the council’s regeneration strategy.

“It’s also a major leisure amenity which brings one of Rugby’s iconic structures back into everyday use.”