PLANS to create a traffic-free link between Bridport and Maiden Newton are steaming ahead thanks to overwhelming public support.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans wants to resurface the ten-mile disused railway track between the two communities for cyclists, walkers and wheelchair users.

More than 250 residents attended recent consultations on the bid – and 179 of the 180 survey forms returned were in favour.

Sustrans’ land negotiator Peter Henshaw said: “We are delighted to have such overwhelming public support for this proposal.

“People were saying how this path would be a real asset to the area and that they only wish we could start tomorrow.

“This enthusiasm clearly shows how popular the path would be and that it would give a huge health and fitness boost for people living in both towns.”

Walkers and cyclists were almost equal in their enthusiasm – 79 per cent of respondents said they would walk the path at some point, 78 per cent would cycle.

Over 60 per cent would do both.

The path would have regular use, with 31 per cent saying they would walk it at least once a week, and 32 per cent cycling at least once a week.

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) would use the path for leisure or recreation, and half to improve personal fitness.

A further 14 per cent said they would use the path for shopping trips.

The route also feeds in to schools in both Bridport and Maiden Newton, offering the prospect of a traffic-free school run.

The drop-in meetings were held last month at Bridport Town Hall and Maiden Newton Village Hall.

Sustrans expects the project will take three to four years to complete. But the charity hopes to start work on a two-mile central section between Toller Porcorum and Powerstock Common later this year, following an ecological audit.