A handful of people gathered on a new £6.2m bridge and road across the River Calder this week to celebrate its official opening.
But May Jenning’s simple act of cutting a ribbon marked a significant moment for many in Earlsheaton.
For years they endured noise and destruction caused by wagons aiding the £25m upgrade of Mitchell Laithes waste water treatment works.
They campaigned alongside local Labour councillors and then MP Shahid Malik for an alternative route to take site traffic away from their narrow residential streets.
On Wednesday – the 85th anniversary of the original site’s opening – Yorkshire Water (YW) closed the old Long Lane entrance and fully opened the Calder Span.
Coun Paul Kane (Lab, Dews East) hailed the day as a “victory for people power”.
The honour of naming the eagerly awaited bridge fell to 77-year-old Mrs Jennings, who read about a naming competition in the Reporter.
Fittingly, Mrs Jennings’s husband grew up on the Mitchell Laithes site where his father was an engineer and the couple live in Long Lane. “It’s a private bridge but we’ve watched it grow,” she said. “We’re really impressed with it. It’s a lot quieter now.”
The 161 metre Calder Span, which is accessed via Mill Street East in Savile Town, is the first bridge YW has ever commissioned.
Project manager Simon Balding said: “It’s only been possible with the patience and involvement of communities on both sides of the river.”
June 2007 – Mitchell Laithes upgrade begins.
June 2008 – Yorkshire Water (YW) announces plan for new access following campaign by residents and Labour Party.
May 2009 – Plan for road and bridge submitted.
September 2009 – Councillors approve plans.
October 2009 – Councillors asked to review decision following formal complaint by local business.
December 2010 – YW submits revised plan.
April 2011 – Residents applaud when councillors approve revised plan.
December 2011 Work begins on new bridge.
June 2013 - Bridge officially opened for use.