Non-profit group will pay most of cost for new trailway footbridge
Government will subsidise “approximately 13 percent” of costs associated with the Bailey's Bay footbridge, according to the Parks Department.
Following recent concerns by residents over how much the bridge would cost taxpayers, a Parks spokeswoman said that Government will contribute around 13 percent toward “preparing the trail, purchasing the bridge, preparing the pylons, and putting the bridges in place ... to connect Crawl Hill to Coney Island, which is about 3.2 kilometres of safe off-road trail that has been very sparsely used because it was not connected.”
Friends of the Bermuda Railway Trail (FBRT), a non-profit group attempting to connect and rejuvenate the trail, will be covering the remaining 87 percent cost of the bridge.
Bailey's Bay residents have objected to the footbridge, citing concerns over security, privacy, and land devaluation, but Tucker Murphy, of FBRT, said the project as a whole has been received with open arms.
“There's a lot of positive support for the project, and that's what we've found throughout,” said Mr Murphy. “With engineering work, we've had pro-bono help from BCM McAlpine — even architectures firms signed on — because they thought it was a good idea.”
Most recently, Bailey's Bay landowner Evan Outerbridge expressed his worry over how much Government will end up paying in maintaining the bridge once construction is completed.
A Parks spokeswoman said: “The bridges chosen are specifically designed to require the lowest possible maintenance and have been used extensively in many remote areas in the North American parks systems because of their durability, ease of assembly and light weight components.
“Ultimately, the responsibility will be with the Department of Parks, but if we compare it with the maintenance of the bridges at Shelly Bay, we anticipate minimal maintenance requirements.”
Clarifying that FBRT has accommodated residents' concerns by altering the planning application for the bridge, Mr Murphy said that while the main goal is to increase usage of the railway trail, it can also be a draw for tourists.
“Speaking from the tourist side of things, we're trying to connect it because we think it will increase use. That's what all the studies show elsewhere. But independently of us, there have been groups that have come down and highlighted the tourist aspect of the railway trail,” he said.
Indeed, Bermuda's railway trail has been highlighted numerous times by travel writers, but Mayor of Hamilton Graeme Outerbridge looked at the project from a local perspective, calling the railway trail: “an asset we've undercut.”
He said: “They [Bailey's Bay residents] gave an opinion. They thought it wasn't a good idea. I take the totally opposite view. I think what this group is doing is magnificent. The railway trail represents Bermuda's longest continuous park ... [and] the fact they have come together to raise this capital to connect the trail — it's fantastic.
“It's a glorious place to get away to for exercise. There's a lot more we can do to develop it as an activity asset and to enhance it.”