Fife Council and its partners are progressing ambitious plans to create an extensive active travel network in the area that will coincide with the forthcoming reopening of the Levenmouth rail line at the end of December 2023.
Detailed designs are being drawn up to improve bus, cycle and walking routes across the Levenmouth area, but high on the agenda are specific plans for links to the new stations at Cameron Bridge and Leven that are central to Leven being reconnected to the Fife Circle.
The complete wish list of improvements - which include on-road cycle provision, footway upgrades and shared use paths - come with an estimated price tag of just over £20m, but members of the Levenmouth area committee heard today (Wednesday) that a funding application has already been made to Sustrans to support the design and pre-construction phases of the proposed active travel network.
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With Fife looking to get 70% of the total funding from Sustrans, and Sustrans due to decide on the application next month, the hope is that many of the ‘priority’ routes - those feeding into the new stations - will be completed before the rail link is due to reopen in December 2023.
Other sources of funding are also being investigated to bolster the proposed network, which aims to improve links to Leven from the likes of East Wemyss, Buckhaven, WIndygates and Methilhill.
Councillor Ken Caldwell, convener of the Levenmouth area committee, said: “It’s a really exciting time for Levenmouth and it’s great to see all of these projects taking place.
“These won’t just be run-of-the-mill railway stations we’re going to have - it’s something the local community and visitors will benefit from.”
Transport minister Graeme Dey confirmed earlier this year that the Leven Station will be located behind the town’s leisure centre, while the Cameron Bridge Station will be to the east of the A915 Standing Stane Road.
Councillors heard that Fife is working in partnership with the SEStran Regional Transport Partnership on the feasibility of designating the two new stations ‘mobility hubs’ - a new concept that looks to integrate public transport and shared transport, such as bike share and car clubs.
Fife Council has also made a successful bid to Transport Scotland’s Bus Partnership Fund (BPF) for the Central and North Fife area, with funding available for the development of a local bus service action plan to enhance accessibility to the two new rail stations.
Councillor David Graham was one of the committee members stressing the need for proper consultation with the public, noting: “We’re all keen to make sure the public have a true say in the process, rather than getting it to look like something we want it to look like.”
Susan Keenlyside, lead consultant on transport networks, said the aim was to hold a number of workshops and engage with local people, businesses and groups.
In response to a query from Councillor Alistair Suttie, Ms Keenlyside also confirmed that the estimated 20-year maintenance costs of the preferred network would have to be met by Fife Council - a figure thought to be in the region of £5.7 million.