The planned expansion of the athletics track at Footes Lane has got to the starting blocks with work scheduled to get going next week.
The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture said it has chosen UK-based contractor Agripower Ltd, which is due to start the work next Monday, meaning the site will be closed until later on this year.
Approval was given earlier this year for the current athletics track to be replaced with a full 400m eight-lane track, with further plans to improve the Garenne stand and refurbish the main toilet block scheduled for 2020.
The track, infield and some the surrounding land will be handed over to the contractor next week following the final big event of the football season - the 2019 Muratti, which is being played on Saturday.
Footes Lane is scheduled to re-open fully at the beginning of October 2019, but four lanes of the 100m home straight will continue to be available for high level competitions and training though, before local athletes head off to compete in this year's Island Games in Gibraltar in June.
"A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to make this important project a reality," said ESC President Deputy Matt Fallaize. "We have worked closely with the main users of the facility to try and ensure they are inconvenienced as little as possible, although we are aware that with any project of this size and scope there are bound to be areas of give and take."
Pictured: Footes Lane infield image from guernseyfc.com.
Although it was recoated in 2001 and 2013, the current track surface has been largely untouched since it was laid in 1991 and the new surface is being installed ready for the 2021 Natwest Island Games.
The works will include a full replacement and extension of the track, the relocation of the current steeplechase jump to inside the track, the relocation of the metal pedestrian barriers and pavement around the outside, the installation of a retaining wall along the 200m bend, the replacement of the old throwing cage and the installation of a competition shot put circle in front of the stand.
In addition, there will be improvements to the drainage from the infield grass pitch and an artificial grass margin will be installed along the edges of the infield.
"Guernsey Athletics are pleased to be involved in this major project with the CfESC which will ultimately offer some real tangible benefits for athletes of all ages," said Athletics Development Officer Tom Druce. "Replacing and upgrading the track will make it a truly inspirational venue, and extending the track to eight lanes increases the training opportunities for athletes, in particular the growing number of young people embracing the sport, making it a great facility not only for them but for future generations as well.
"We're also really pleased that current high level athlete training needs have been taken into account as part of the project plan, prior to this year's Island Games."
Guernsey Football Club and Guernsey Rugby have also put a lot of time and effort into the planning stages of the project, liaising with league organisers to ensure minimum disruption at the beginning of the 2019/2020 season for both sports.
Pictured: Image of Footes Lane track from guernseyathletics.org.gg.
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