A GOVERNMENT minister will visit Queensbury on Monday to hear about ambitious plans to re-open a Victorian railway tunnel as a cycleway.
Transport Minister Robert Goodwill will be shown the tunnel which shut in the 1960s, but has recently been part of a push to create a cycleway that would link Bradford and Halifax.
The Queensbury Community Heritage and Action Partnership (Q-CHAP) believes the mile and a half long tunnel could become the longest underground cycleway in Europe, and build on the Tour De France legacy by bringing tourists and cycle enthusiasts to the area.
Mr Goodwill has recently said that more disused tunnels have the potential to become cycleways, so the group hopes to get some high-profile backing for its campaign.
Joining the minister on the visit will be Gary Verity, the chief executive of tourism group Welcome to Yorkshire, responsible for bringing the Tour de France to the county next month, and Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for planning and transport.
Q-CHAP will tell the visitors about its ambitious plans for the tunnel, which include annual sporting events.
The tunnel, which opened in the 1880s, but now lies derelict and partially flooded, is owned and operated by the Highways Agency, which has a budget to make the structure safe and will soon be undertaking a survey to find the best way to do this.
Q-Chap believes that this money should be used to re-open the tunnel, rather than block it.
To the north of the tunnel is the Great Northern Cycle Trail, created by transport group Sustrans and the Council. The hope is that the tunnel could extend this trail, which currently links Bradford and Cullingworth.
Sustrans, which recently opened a similar cycleway in a disused Bath tunnel, has voiced support for the tunnel idea.
During his visit Mr Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, will also visit Black Dyke Mills, a building in which Q-CHAP hope to open a heritage centre for Queensbury.
Norah McWilliam, who leads Q-CHAP, said: “2018 will be the 140th anniversary of the tunnel's opening. Given the go-ahead, we think Bradford and Halifax could become proud joint hosts to a fantastic sporting event - the Queensbury Tunnel Triathlon. Why not? This is a once-only opportunity to ensure a fantastic piece of our industrial past plays a key role in our transport future. We need to grab that opportunity with both hands.”
The Minister is due to arrive at the tunnel at 11am.