The City of Lincoln Council approved on Wednesday night a proposal from Network Rail to build a pedestrian footbridge over the Brayford level crossing.
The bridge is meant to reduce waiting times for pedestrians at the level crossing, ahead of longer barrier closures in the coming years, as well as for safety reasons.
Preparation work will start this summer, with completion expected by May 2014. The footbridge will also have lifts for disabled access.
The plans include work to clear the swan jetty and create a new space for the birds next to the island in Brayford Pool, move the old signal box closer to the water and enlarge the bridge linking up to the university campus.
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, said: “I am pleased that the planning team recognised the worth of these plans which have been many months in development.
“The design is a direct result of consultation with people and will help improve connectivity across Lincoln.
“Our team will now continue the detailed design and planning for the works. A critical part of this will be the interface with highways works to accommodate the bridge. Preparation work and the work to modify the jetty and on entrance paths to the University will start this summer.”
Network Rail also plans to build a second bridge over the busy High Street level crossing, but the site is more constrained, and designs are taking longer to develop.
To free up the necessary road space for the bridges, it would involve putting in a one-way system for motorists, clockwise northbound along Brayford Wharf East and southbound along the High Street to the junction with Tentercroft Street.
Phil Verster added: “We are acutely aware of this need to address the risk of misuse at both of Lincoln’s level crossings and continue to seek the best possible solution for the High Street.
“We are in discussions with local property owners to see if it is possible to redevelop a building as part of the footbridge design. As soon as possible we will bring those designs to a public event for further discussion.”
City Council Leader Councillor Ric Metclafe said: “The new bridge will play a vital part in unlocking the potential of the Brayford area for business, visitors and those who live in the city.
“As a city council we remain committed to supporting this and other projects which will enhance Lincoln and help stimulate the growth that is necessary to build a prosperous future.
“We now look forward to phase two of the pedestrian bridge project on the High Street.”
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney commented: “This is great news and will help to reduce risks at this crossing for pedestrians. I also understand that Network Rail are progressing negotiations with owners of some buildings at the High Street location to allow them to proceed with planning permission applications and ultimately a footbridge at that location also.
“There is more to do – particularly as the current 20-23 minutes plus per hour the barriers are down during the day is to be increased by Network Rail to 40+ minutes per hour to allow long freight trains to pass slowly through our beautiful City. Such an increase in barrier down time will not benefit anyone in Lincoln at all.
“However, I will be working closely with Network Rail and other elected representatives of the city and county, and their officers, to ensure that this constructive engagement on behalf of my constituents with regard to the level crossings continues and progresses towards a welcome positive conclusion in the near future.”