Morecambe Bay Partnership has been awarded £50,000 to cost and explore the opportunities of a walking and cycling route alongside Arnside viaduct.
Susannah Bleakley, chief executive of Morecambe Bay Partnership, said: “We are excited to be leading this project, working closely with the local Arnside to Grange community group, investigating whether or not it’s possible to cross the Bay on foot and by bike using Arnside viaduct, linking communities along the coast.
“We will be exploring where the route could go, if it’s worth the investment and whether there would be more positives than negatives.
“If the studies show it’s a good investment we’ll have everything we need to fundraise to build the route.”
The connection will create a link in the English Coastal Path and offer a new route for the Bay Cycle Way, creating a new circular route starting from either Grange or Arnside stations.
Bleakley added: “We need to know how much the crossing would cost, what the challenges are, and what the additional benefits would be in terms of visitor spend.
“Take a scenario where the cost of the crossing is estimated at £3 million, and the increase in spend from cyclists and walkers is estimated at over £500,000 annually.
“In this case, the crossing looks like a reasonable investment and it may be possible to make this case to attract the finance.
“Until we do further studies we really don’t know – these are just educated guesses.”
The award will mean that studies can be done to find out if the bridge and route should go ahead, how much it will cost, what benefits and challenges it will bring and how it should be designed to help manage visitors positively.
Partners include Morecambe Bay Partnership, Arnside to Grange Community Group, Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria County Council, Lake District National Park, Natural England, Sustrans, Cumbria Rail Partnership, Dallam Estate and Holker Estate.