A NEW bridge which forms a vital part of a £24m programme of infrastructure improvements at Botley has been officially opened.

The 23m bridge links Dodwell and Pylands lanes with Heath House Lane.

It has been funded by developers’ contributions after plans for 1,400 homes at Boorley Green and 250 homes on land off Pylands Lane were given the go-ahead.

The new homes are being built by a consortium consisting of Bloor Homes, Bovis Homes and Linden Homes.

The bridge, costing £1.5 million, was put in place by contractor Breheny CE with the help of project managers Norman Rourke Pryme.

The work took four days and involved fitting together 10 pre-cast, pre-stressed bridge beams – ranging in weight from 35 to 58 tonnes and measuring 23 metres in length – which were lowered into place by a 450-tonne crane.

Project director David Evans, speaking on behalf on the consortium, said: “We’re delighted to open the bridge to the public after what was a technically challenging project.

“We’d like to thank Hampshire County Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Highways England for their support throughout, and especially the local community for their patience and understanding while the work was carried out.”

Councillor Bruce Tennant, mayor of Eastleigh, who cut the ribbon to open the bridge, said: “I was delighted to be asked to formally open the new bypass and to be one of the first to cross it.”

The bridge is an important part of the bypass linking junction eight of the M27 with Kings Copse Avenue, Hedge End, avoiding the busy junction at Sundays Hill.

It has been designed to ensure rare Bechstein’s bats can maintain their preferred flight path along the water course and within the tree canopy. The bridge also allows the watercourse to flow naturally without the need of culverting.