Three Cabinet ministers today visited the new £32 million Walton Bridge to celebrate the spectacular structure’s completion.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin was joined by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander at the first new road bridge to be built over the River Thames in more than 20 years.
To mark the occasion a flotilla of more than 60 boats passed under the 140-metre long crossing between Walton-on-Thames and Shepperton that took 18 months to build and will carry nearly 35,000 vehicles a day when it opens to the public on 22 July.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This new bridge is an important link across the River Thames which will provide motorists, pedestrians and cyclists access to major employers, schools and retail centres.
“The Department of Transport’s investment of more than £23 million towards the scheme highlights the Government’s commitment to delivering local major improvements and boosting economic growth.”
Surrey County Council Leader David Hodge said: “It’s fantastic to have three Cabinet ministers here to see for themselves why this magnificent new bridge will make such a big difference for businesses and commuters.
“With Surrey’s roads being among Britain’s busiest and the county being a powerhouse of the national economy, we’re opening a hugely important new chapter in the history of the famous old river.”
Surrey’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Highways and Environment John Furey said: “It’s been fascinating to see this structure take shape. Good transport links help businesses grow, so as well as becoming the Thames’ latest landmark, Walton Bridge will also boost Surrey’s future prosperity.”
Surrey contributed £8.5 million to the project on top of the Government’s investment.
The bridge, which has been completed on time and on budget, was constructed by Costain and designed by Atkins. It replaces two long-serving temporary crossings next to it. The design means there are no piers in the water, opening up views along the river and improving navigation for boats.
A crossing has existed at Walton in various forms since 1750. The first, which was a toll crossing, was built by Surrey landowner Samuel Dicker.
The new bridge in numbers:
* 290 tonnes – the weight of each of the bridge arches.
* 34,000 vehicles – will use the crossing every week day.
* 220 tonnes – of asphalt used for the road surface.
* 1,200 tonnes – of concrete forms the road’s base.
* 140 metres – the length the bridge stretches across the Thames.
* 80 weeks – to build the bridge.