A NEW footbridge to replace the Devon Place subway in Newport could be completed early in the new financial year.

An email from Newport City Council council’s head of city services, Paul Jones, confirms contractors have been appointed to carry out “detailed technical work” for the planned bridge, which will span Newport railway station.

The council is aiming to get the building works tendered in September, and is “targeting early in the new financial year (2020/21) for completion”, the email says.

However the timescale is dependant on Network Rail and the completion of its electrification works.

A planning application for the bridge, linking Devon Place and Queensway, was submitted last September but it has yet to be approved.

The bridge has been designed to be “an attractive open and inviting replacement” to the subway, which has been repeatedly vandalised.

Last month the subway was repainted as part of the council’s “routine maintenance work programme”, but just days afterwards it was subject to vandalism again, with graffiti reappearing.

Conservative councillor Matthew Evans described the situation as “frustrating.”

“It’s not a satisfactory situation,” Cllr Evans said.

“The footbridge is desperately needed. A lot of people will not go down there at the moment.”

Plans for the new footbridge have been on the cards since 2014 when the Welsh Government’s then-transport minister Edwina Hart announced a £4m investment to build the bridge, alongside other work. But the scheme, planned for completion in 2017, was hit by delays.

David Barnes, of David Barnes Public Relations, who regularly uses the tunnel, said it “does not reflect well on Newport.”

“I think it would be great if they do build the footbridge because the underpass is in a right state,” Mr Barnes said.

“It’s a bit better since they repainted it, but it’s pretty nasty, it’s smelly and it’s not really fit for purpose.”

A spokeswoman for Newport council said the authority expects the new footbridge to open next year.

The spokeswoman said: “This is a complex project but Newport City Council is working with the Welsh Government and Network Rail to make it a reality.

“As previously announced, funding has been allocated from Welsh Government for the project

“The council is working with its contractors to finalise technical details and it is anticipated that the tender for the construction phase will be issued shortly.

“It is expected that the new bridge will be open to the public next year.”