Tuesday, March 14, 2023

A screengrab from Waterford City & County Council’s digital rendering of the Sustainable Transport Bridge, which will link the North Quays to the South Plaza.  

A digital rendering of how Waterford city centre’s new Sustainable Transport Bridge will look upon its completion attracted over 9,500 online hits in five days.

The video, uploaded by Waterford City & County Council on its YouTube channel on Wednesday morning last, illustrates how the city’s third river crossing will look upon its installation.  

At the briefing held following the groundbreaking ceremony on March 6, Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh confirmed that piling works to accommodate the steel bridge will begin in the River Suir from June onwards.   

“It’s not a handy, little pedestrian bridge,” said Mr Walsh. “It’s an eight-metre (26 feet) wide bridge that ultimately can take cycling, walking and some form of public transport; God only knows where we’ll be in the next 10 or 20 years. It could be an autonomous bus, it could be where technology is going, we certainly will be looking at something (along those lines) or having the capacity, not necessarily to go to a wider area but just to create that absolute connection between the North Quays and the South Quays.” 

North Quays contractor BAM will be responsible for the bridge’s production and installation. Construction Director Mark Phelan stated that five steel cofferdams, redesigned in recent months, will be placed in the River Suir to accommodate the bridge’s piers. While cofferdams are traditionally removed as the bridge construction process progresses, “these are going to be put in and not taken out. They’ll be forming part of the permanent works in a very sustainable way and in a very innovative way.”  

The bridge sections, which will be installed on top of the piers, are being made offsite in Belgium. The bridge, which will feature an opening span to accommodate marine traffic, will be tested for mechanical, electrical and operational purposes in a controlled indoor environment prior to being shipped to Ireland on barges.    

In a two-week window, the bridge will be shipped in four pieces to its permanent home, including “two very large 600 ton pieces” and two smaller sections.  

Said Mr Phelan: “In the space of two weeks you’ll go from just seeing the cofferdams sticking out of the river to the main structure of the bridge (being) in place in a very short space of time.”   

A (Dutch) Mammoet crane, with the capacity to lift the equivalent of 400 cars, will be used during the construction project.  

Regarding the Integrated Transport Hub, which will be constructed in the first phase of the project (between now and 2025), Michael Walsh stated: “Everybody in Waterford will know that the existing train station is seriously compromised in terms of access, whether it’s bus, car, cycling even on a certain level or otherwise. It’s just not, in terms of where you want to be as a city, (its current location) is not where it needs to be. And now with our partners in Irish Rail, we’re putting together a new story in many respects in terms of that rail provision. We will now be properly able to connect buses, cycling and walking in absolutely sustainable ways so it is exciting in that context.” 

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