COUNCIL chiefs have approved a £1.5 million scheme to improve and increase cycling infrastructure in St Helens.

The cabinet gave the green light to construction contracts for two major projects at its meeting this month.

Funded by the Liverpool City Region – as part of a strategy to create more than 55km of green walking and cycling corridors across the region – and match funded by its transforming cities fund – the sustainable transport and green infrastructure scheme will see works carried out at Gerards Bridge and Canal Greenway, as well as Sankey Valley to Colliers Moss Greenway.

The overall scheme will have three elements.

These comprise new footbridges over Rainford Brook/Sankey Canal and repairs to damaged canal walls and towpath, new and improved on and off-road footways/cycleways connecting to the existing network across the borough, and watercourse improvement works to Rainford Brook to improve biodiversity and alleviate flooding at College Street which was completed in November 2020.

Among the improvements for the Gerards Bridge and Canal Greenway route, 1km of three-metre-wide cycleway will be installed between College Street and Merton Bank Road as well as a path upgrade on Merton Bank Road to Park Road – while the Sankey Valley to Colliers Moss route will include an off-road cycle path from Fleet Lane to Colliers Moss railway bridge.

St Helens Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Andy Bowden said: “With improving residents’ health and the environment key priorities, sustainable travel projects like this are an important element within our highway infrastructure improvement schemes as we look to support a strong, thriving, inclusive and well-connected local economy.

“As a council, we’re making great strides to make walking and cycling a better and safter way to travel, opening up green and vibrant places that reflect our heritage and culture.”

Work on the scheme is expected to start this year.