The new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists will be a replacement for the existing ageing bridge on Shoreham High Street, which links the beach with the town centre.
Public consultation on the plans will be held in the new year. The council is aiming to have the bridge open in spring 2013.
“The existing footbridge was built in the 1920s and is coming to the end of its life,” said council deputy leader Lionel Barnard, responsible for highways and transport.
The contract is worth up to £4m and is being funded by the county council and the charity, Sustrans, which exists to promote walking, cycling and public transport.
The scheme is part of Sustrans’ Connect2 project, which is developing new walking and cycling routes across the UK. The project was awarded £50m in 2007 by the Big Lottery Fund, after it won the ‘People’s Millions’ competition.
Sustrans regional director Simon Pratt said: “The link across the harbour is an immensely popular route in Shoreham. We are delighted to be able to ensure that future generations will be able to get safely from the town centre to the beach. We are looking forward to working with local residents as we begin to deliver the new bridge.”
Osborne was selected from a shortlist of six contractors competing for the project. Tommy Chambers, who heads up Osborne’s civil engineering team, said: “This is a project that needs great care and a sensitive approach because of the new bridge’s location, but we have experience of similar projects and working closely with local partners, and are looking forward to delivering such an important project for both the local community and users of Sustrans routes from further afield.”
Lionel Barnard added: “We will be working closely with Osborne over the coming months on the design of the new bridge to find ways to minimise disruption to the local community during construction.”