Three designs have been shortlisted for an footbridge spanning the River Lagan.
The designs were announced yesterday by Transport Minister Danny Kennedy as he published a feasibility report into proposals to build a walking and cycling bridge linking the Gasworks site to the Ormeau Embankment.
The bridge, costing between £5.4m and £9.6m, would allow walkers and cyclists to commute into the city centre without having to brave the heavily congested Albert Bridge and Ormeau Bridge.
Last year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the minister had launched the feasibility study into a new footbridge, a plan that was proposed years ago by Laganside Corporation and included in the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan but never made it into reality.
Earlier this year a series of public information events presented nine proposed designs, during which some 228 written responses were received.
Three designs have now been shortlisted, including the £5.8m option of a twin pylon cable stayed bridge, and the £5.4m option of a curved twin span inclined bowstring arch bridge.
The minister has also shortlisted a new option, similar to the cable proposal but splitting mid span, with a lower deck going down to the Embankment towpath, and an upper deck continuing over the road and into Ormeau Park at an estimated cost of £9.6m.
"The proposals contained in the report recommend that a combined pedestrian/cycle bridge is constructed over the River Lagan between the Gasworks Site and the Ormeau Embankment," Mr Kennedy said. "The number of proposals reflects the enthusiasm for a bridge in this area.
"It would provide important links to the city centre and connect two of the city's key assets, the Gasworks Business Park and Ormeau Park.
"A key aim of the proposed bridge is to create a safe and attractive route for cyclists and pedestrians to and from the city centre."
An economic appraisal will now be developed to allow the three recommended options to be further considered prior to seeking Executive approval to proceed, the minister said.
The feasibility report is available to view on the internet at www.drdni.gov.uk/index/proposed-lagan-footbridge.htm
The bridge will span 140m between the Lagan entrance to the Gasworks and the Ravenhill Reach car park beside Ormeau Park.
Sustrans NI director Steven Patterson said: " Consultation for the Connswater Community Greenway found that 60% of residents said they were put off cycling by the danger of cycling on the roads. Traffic-free greenways are proving very popular with walkers and cyclists of all ages, so this bridge will be a really good route from south and east Belfast to the city centre, bringing Ormeau Park closer to the city centre for recreational use."