HOPES are rising that an extension to the new East Croydon rail bridge down to Cherry Orchard Road will be built.
But at this stage it looks that it will be a temporary solution and that commuters will have to wait a few more years before a permanent bridge becomes a reality.
Network Rail and Croydon Council worked together on the provision of the £13 million first stage of the bridge, which now links Lansdowne Road with the station and spans the six platforms.
Historically, it has been dubbed "the bridge to nowhere" because it was supposed to stretch to Cherry Orchard Road, improving pedestrian links from Addiscombe to the station and the town centre and easing pressure on the existing ticket hall.
Its provision has been dependent on work beginning on Menta's residential tower building next to the station.
Under the council's Section 106 agreement with Menta, the developer pays for the bridge extension, but money cannot be claimed until the development is under way.
On Wednesday talks between the council and Network Rail threw up the possibility of a temporary extension.
A statement read: "The council is keen to see a permanent extension to the bridge into Cherry Orchard Road.
"The East Croydon masterplan identifies this link bridge as an early priority objective for delivery to unlock development and improve east-west routes across the town.The council met with Network Rail today and proposed that we both work together on producing up-to-date cost estimates for a temporary bridge link.
"These costs will inform how the council then decides to commit to help deliver this with Network Rail."
It is understood the cost of a temporary bridge could be in the region of £2 million, while a permanent structure would have an £8 million to £9 million price tag.
In a separate statement, Network Rail said: "We have offered our project management and engineering expertise to help finish the bridge that residents of Croydon want to see.
"We have also offered two potential solutions. First, building a temporary extension, using third-party funds, to provide access while a longer-term solution is found.
"We could also look at options to explore whether we could construct a more permanent bridge, provided that we had a firm guarantee of being repaid at a later date."
Menta boss Craig Marks said this week that he hoped basement works on the tower would start in 2016 but he would not say when he expected the project to be completed.
Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell, who has organised a petition – signed so far by about 1,000 people – calling for a rapid solution, said: "I think it bizarre the council is not prepared to take up the suggestion of a permanent solution.
"If they are not going to do that, it is essential my constituents have the temporary solution as soon as possible and I shall be pursuing the council on this very vigorously."