A MULTI-million pound project to rebuild a bridge between Kearsley, Farnworth and Little Lever is just weeks from completion.

The £1.8 million scheme to replace Wilson’s Bridge, which received planning permission from Bolton Council last April, moved a step closer when the new bridge was installed.

The bridge, which runs over the River Croal in Farnworth, has been closed since 2008, after being declared unstable.

It will be opened to the public once a new sewer pipe is installed, which is likely to be in a matter of weeks. Work on the new structure has been carried out by United Utilities since last August.

Tessa Smith, United Utilities project co-ordinator, said: “Unlike the old bridge, the foundations of our new one have been pile-driven into the ground so it’s not going to shift.

“It’s been a huge job because, as well as the engineering difficulties of lifting a 30-tonne bridge into position right next to the original we have also had to make sure we didn’t harm any nearby industrial heritage or the environment.”

The news was welcomed by Kearsley residents, some of who said they had waited six years for the structure to be completed.

Hilary Blower, aged 69, of Seddon Lane, said: “This bridge has been a long time coming. I’m looking forward to walking over that bridge, because it will make a wonderful difference.

“We can walk to Moses Gate and back, we can walk to Farnworth and I can keep fit.” Peter Wigginton, aged 74, also of Seddon Lane, says the new bridge will save him time and money in tending to his allotment in Cemetery Road, Kearsley.

He said: “I normally have to drive to my allotment, which I go to six days a week. Now, I can walk there in 15 minutes. It not only saves me a lot of money and driving around, it will be good for all the residents round here.”

Cllr Derek Burrows, who represents Kearsley, added: “This is excellent news. It’s been a long time coming but at least we are there now.

“The people will be able to make use of it again and it will make their lives much easier.”

An official opening of the new Wilson’s Bridge is expected to take place later this spring.