Arcing serenely over Lagan, planned new bridge linking Gasworks and Ormeau Park
And here it is - the Gasworks Bridge that could span the River Lagan within a couple of years.
This design is the preferred option for the proposed new walking and cycling bridge linking the Gasworks site to the embankment close to Ormeau Park, Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy announced yesterday. The 141-metre long cable-stayed bridge with a steel deck would have its 40-metre high steel supporting towers sunk close to the banks of the Lagan, leaving the main central section over the river free from obstruction.
A consultation on the environmental issues associated with the bridge will take place this month, Mr Kennedy said.
He added the striking design will result in an eye-catching construction connecting two of the city's key assets - Gasworks Business Park and Ormeau Park.
It will also include a pedestrian and cycle crossing on Ormeau Embankment to allow access into Ormeau Park.
There will be opportunities for the public to see the preferred design and to discuss the proposals with the design team this year. A planning application could be submitted later this year.
Walking and cycling charity Sustrans said the bridge can only encourage more of the public to start travelling actively by foot or bike, but to make a difference to how people travel two other measures were needed. Sustrans Northern Ireland director Gordon Clarke said: "A network of linked routes that connect the bridge with the city centre and the communities to the south and east needs to be provided. The second is a programme of 'smarter choices', working with places of work and communities to positively encourage active travel making use of the routes and bridge."
Jonathan Hobbs, who writes for the NI Greenways blog, said: "The Gasworks Bridge will hopefully mark the start of high quality cycling and walking route development in Belfast. To fully realise the benefits, the bridge must be supported by a new 24/7 route across Ormeau Park, and new dedicated cycling infrastructure stretching east from Ravenhill to the Connswater Greenway, and west into the city centre and beyond."