The first section of a network of cycle paths eventually linking Newhaven, Ouse Valley villages and Lewes, could be ready as early as April.
East Sussex County Council this week agreed to give £50,000 towards the long-awaited project which will connect Kingston with Lewes by creating a two mile cycle path.
The council made up the difference in funding to enable the dream of a cycle and pedestrian path a reality.
A driving force behind the project has been the Kingston Road and Cranedown Residents’ Association, which itself raised £11,000,
Delighted chairman Wendy Brewer said: “I couldn’t be happier.
Plans for this route were first discussed in 2005 and now it is about to become a reality.”
She pointed out that it was part of a wider scheme embracing the area: the Ouse Valley Cycle Network’s Egrets Way, a network of cycleways which will make travelling by bicycle between Newhaven and Lewes and through the Ouse Valley villages safer and more attractive.
“In effect we’re building a branch before we build the whole trunk,” she said, “but it’s great to make a start on what will be the entire plan to open up this wonderful part of the world to cyclists and people on foot.”
The county council previously declined the opportunity to fill the hole in the budget because it feared it would have to take funds away from highway construction projects.
But on Monday (January 28) the financial contribution was approved by the Economy, Transport and Environment Committee from the authority’s 2013/14 capital programme for local transport improvements.
A call for further financial help had been made by green transport campaign group Sustrans, which had been left £45,000 short of the £206,000 overall scheme costs.
Eastern area manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, Jeremy Burgess, said: “In terms of the first section of the Egrets Way I think this is excellent news and the culmination of a great deal of hard work by the community.
“The SDNPA is very keen to continue to support initiatives that deliver safe and sustainable transport alternatives within the National Park.”
Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe (Ind, Lewes) added: “It is very good to know after all the hard work put in by both residents and officers that the pedestrian and cycleway along Kingston Road is going to be built.
“I am hopeful that with the new crossing the lower speed limit will also become possible.”
Neville Harrison, chairman of the Ouse Valley Cycle Network, warmly welcomed the first part of the Egrets Way.
He said: “We can celebrate the culmination of years of preparatory work by the Kingston/Cranedown group, the vision and commitment of OVCN, Norman Baker’s funding initiative, Sustrans’ belief in the project and Simon Pratt’s willingness to take risk.”
Egrets Way will be a network of multi-user routes in the Ouse valley for recreational and utility use.
To keep up to date with news from the Ouse Valley Cycle Network visit www.ovcn.org.uk