New Lagan pedestrian and cycle bridge set for 2026 opening, as £23m project goes out to tender

The estimated cost of the bridge project has increased three-fold in the past decade

An artistic impression of the new 143 metre Lagan Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, which could open in the summer of 2026.
An artistic impression of the new 143 metre Lagan Pedestrian and Cycle Bridge, which could open in the summer of 2026.

The contract for a new £23 million pedestrian and cycle bridge across the River Lagan in Belfast has gone out to tender, with a target for completion by July 2026.

The Lagan pedestrian and cycle bridge will span 143 metres from the Lagan Towpath at the Gasworks site to the Ormeau Embankment, close to the ‘Ozone’ indoor tennis centre and leisure complex.

The planning application for the project was first submitted in May 2015, with planning approval granted in April 2016.

At that time, it was estimated the bridge would cost between £7m and £9m to build.

That was updated to £12.9m in December 2020.

The bridge was included in the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) package, with £12.1m of funding allocated in December 2021.

The Department for Infrastructure reviewed the cost of the bridge in mid-2023, estimating it will now cost between £23m and £28m.

The department said: “The revised cost reflects increases in the key construction costs, including the cost of steel for the superstructure, ground works and piling for the substructure and marine works.”

Despite the revision estimating costs could reach £28m, the tender notice issued by the department this week valued the project at £23m, potentially reflecting the recent easing of inflation in the construction sector.

The notice states that the “steel superstructure” will be supported on piled reinforced concrete piers and abutments, with approach ramps provided beyond the bridge at each end to tie into the existing pedestrian and cycle infrastructure.

The height of the two steel pylons will be approximately 26.5 metres.

The deadline to submit bids for the contract is July 24 2024, with a target of delivering the scheme by July 2026.

The rising cost of engineering projects has proved a significant issue for the funding of Stormont’s capital projects over the past year.

In April, it emerged that the cost of a flood defence scheme along the River Lagan in Belfast has almost doubled to £33m.

A £17m contract for the Belfast Tidal Flood Alleviation Scheme was originally awarded to Charles Brand in 2021.

The cost of the new Grand Central Station in Belfast has soared to £340m, while the estimated cost of building Casement Park in the west of the city has been reported as around £308m.