The final three designs for a new footbridge across the Lagan River have been revealed.
An original 10 options for the structure have been cut down to three in a report issued by the Department for Regional Development (DRD).
The crossing will connect the Gasworks business park off Belfast’s lower Ormeau Road with the parkside embankment over the river.
A public consultation had been held earlier in the year, drawing 228 responses to the raft of designs on display.
The most popular was Option 3, with over 70 votes.
It has been modified into a new design called Option 3a (the middle image to the right), which has a price tag of £5.8m.
The others are Option 10 and Option 6 (top and bottom, respectively).
Option 10 is similar to 3a, but runs much deeper into Ormeau Park.
Its estimated cost is listed in the report as being £9.6m.
Option 6 is a curved bridge, which comes with a price estimate of £5.4m.
However, the DRD report also says “it is very difficult to estimate the cost of structures such as this”.
In a statement announcing the shortlisting yesterday, DRD Minister Danny Kennedy said the new structure “would provide important links to the city centre and connect two of the city’s key assets, the Gasworks Business Park and Ormeau Park”.
“A key aim of the proposed bridge is to create a safe and attractive route for cyclists and pedestrians to and from the city centre,” said Mr Kennedy.
The report estimates that it will cut the time taken to get from the Gasworks to the entrance to Ormeau Park from 29 minutes on foot to eight.
Of the 228 responses received in the consultation, 85 per cent felt such a bridge would enhance the city.
However, just 56 per cent indicated they would use it.
The next step is to run an economic analysis into the trio of remaining blueprints; something which is expected to take several months.
After that, the DRD minister will make a decision.
The whole bridge-building project is hoped to be complete 30 months from now.
The news comes just weeks after the Sam Thompson Bridge opened in east Belfast.