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Gloucestershire Business News

Trust going the extra mile to complete canal project

The first stage of Cotswold Canals Trust's ambitious project to fill a "missing mile" and link up Gloucestershire's canal network has been completed.

Less than a year after work started, work on the stretch of the Stroudwater Navigation which runs through the A38 Whitminster roundabout has been completed

Helped by a £4million grant from Highways England, the scheme is designed to link up the restored five-mile section of canal between Thrupp and Stonehouse with the inland waterway network at Saul.

The stretch was demolished in the 1960s when the roundabout and M5 were built and an application for £8.9million to complete the scheme has been lodged with the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Cotswold Canals Trust ambassador Aimee-Louise Malcolm said: "Unlike most road infrastructure projects, this is the cornerstone of a local charity's mission to restore the historic canals between the River Severn and The Thames.

"The public have been amazingly supportive throughout the works. We are especially grateful to the neighbouring residents, who have been enormously kind, even bringing the team home baked cakes every week.

"The Cotswold Canals project can now continue and by 2023 the reinstated canal will be navigable once again."

The project, which was managed by Gloucestershire County Council Highways with contractors Alun Griffiths Ltd, worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic with minimal disruption.

Work uncovered the old A38 road under the roundabout and a large capping stone which formed part of the original lock and can be seen inside the roundabout compound.

Highways England project manager Sarah Lewis said: "We're delighted the first stage of the Missing Mile of the Stroudwater Canal is now complete.

"Our Designated Funds programme was developed so that we can invest in improvements like this which go beyond traditional road building and maintenance and have a positive impact on people and communities.:

Councillor Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways, said he was delighted to see that this part of the project completed.

He said: "I would like to thank the project team for their hard work and for achieving this when faced with the many challenges posed by Covid-19. It's great to see this part of the canal has been reopened and I'm sure it will attract many visitors to the area."

The canal restoration will provide a new walking and cycling route, environmental improvements with more than 21 hectares of wildlife habitats and a safe crossing for people under the A38.

The Ocean Rail Bridge in Stonehouse will be replaced and Walk Bridge will be re-commissioned in May with the whole Cotswold Canals Connected Phase 1b project due to be completed in late 2023.

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