A year on from its opening in September 2016, the new £19 million road bridge over the River Medway at Wouldham and Halling was recognised for making a life-changing difference to the local community.
It used to take 25 minutes by car to travel between the two points where the bridge now stands, but that was cut to less than a minute by the snipping of a ribbon at the formal opening of 'Peters Bridge'.
Trenport Director Chris Hall said: “The bridge was always crucial to the success of Peters Village as a new community, through opening up better access to the east bank, but its wider importance to existing communities on both banks – in terms of jobs, education, recreation and shopping – can’t be underestimated.
“The east bank particularly, now benefits from better links with London by both road and rail, while the county town of Maidstone – with all its facilities – has become easier to access for those on the west bank.”
Apart from the 1960s M2 motorway bridge, it is the first time in centuries that Kent's largest river has been permanently bridged between its populous upper reaches and Aylesford village – some eight miles away.
But the two banks were briefly linked by a military Bailey Bridge during and just after World War II, and a small passenger ferry operated until the 1960s.
"The new bridge has made life so much easier for many of our staff, by considerably cutting journey time, and I would imagine parents have benefited too in making the school run and then getting off to work. We've also had applications for children on the east bank to join the school and I expect that trend to continue” - Wendy Donnelly - Head Teacher, Halling Primary School
...and what some of her Year 6 pupils had to say
"I can get to my dance lesson more quickly"
"I had more choices for my secondary school, because I could get to them more quickly"
"My dad gets to work more quickly, so he has more time at home"
"It takes less time to visit friends"
"It takes a lot less time to get to my korfball club in Maidstone"
“It’s early days, but I know that my colleagues across the river and myself find it so much easier to hold meetings and, of course, there are many family ties and friendships forged during the days of the old passenger ferry (closed in the 1960s) that will have been strengthened or renewed more easily – it will certainly help at christenings, weddings and funerals.
“I’m also pleased to say that the bridge is part of a new series of circular walks being created in co-operation with the Kent Wildlife Trust as part of the Activity Plan for a £300,000 Heritage Lottery Fund project to repair All Saints Church, Snodland – mentioned in the Domesday Book and one of the nation’s oldest churches” - The Rev Hugh Broadbent, Rector of Snodland
“It’s easier for people to get in and out of the villages and access things like schools and supermarkets. It also makes my job easier: I live just outside of the area I’m responsible for, so my journey times onto the patch and getting around are so much faster, which is obviously good for everyone’s peace of mind” - Jo-Anne Tiller, local PCSO (Police Community Support Officer)
"The new bridge really does make my life so much easier. My livery yard is across the river, my children use the trains to go to local towns and the local shops are now so much closer and easy to get to" - Emma Norris, Wouldham resident
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