Battle lines drawn on Limerick bridge proposal

While bridges have featured in famous war films The Bridge over the River Kwai and a Bridge Too Far, a former mayor of Limerick yesterday warned battle lines are being drawn up over a planned €15m “bridge to nowhere” on the Shannon.

Battle lines drawn on Limerick bridge proposal

Independent councillor John GIlligan said opposition was growing to a planned 100m pedestrian crossing designed to run from Arthur’s Quay Park linking Merchants Quay near the county courthouse.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced in October 2014 that the Government was allocating €6m to Fáilte Ireland to help fund the structure.

At that time, Mr Noonan said: “Fáilte Ireland think it is a very good project and it is either at the top or very near the top of the projects they want to fund.”

Mr Gilligan, speaking at a meeting of the Metropolitan District of Limerick City and County Council yesterday, said: “We had The Bridge over the River Kwai and A Bridge Too Far. This is a bridge to nowhere. Nobody wants it. They are telling us that this will be an iconic structure.

“The river is Limerick’s iconic feature. People won’t come to look at this bridge. To spend more than €15m on this is just crazy. We haven’t heard anything about a planning application and when, and if, it does we can deal with it. There is no point in this development. We have enough bridges in the city. I don’t know what this proposed bridge is supposed to achieve.”

Another former city mayor, Labour councillor Joe Leddin, also dismissed claims the bridge will form an iconic vista.

“All it will achieve is blocking the view of the iconic Curraghour Falls, King John’s Castle, and St Mary’s Cathedral,” he said. “It will in fact deface these historic structures which date back to the 12th century.”

Mr Noonan, however, said at the time that the bridge would link Shannon Rowing Club at Sarsfield Bridge with Merchants Quay and enhance the city’s tourist appeal by linking the three existing bridges with pedestrian walkways.

Fáilte Ireland says the bridge would have a ‘wow’ factor and link a number of existing tourist attractions within walking distance. It also says it will encourage visitors flying into Shannon to take in Limerick City on the Wild Atlantic Way. Of the €6m approved by Mr Noonan, he said €3m would be made available in 2015 and another €3m in 2016.

A business case drawn up by Limerick City and County Council on the project states that private donations will be required and the council has pledged to make up any shortfall.

The council also pushed the case for the footbridge on the grounds of social regeneration stating it will provide a further connection to the St Mary’s Park estate on King’s Island, one of city’s four run- down areas receiving major funding under the city’s regeneration project.

The bridge project also forms part of the Limerick 2030 plan, which proposes to transform the city centre over the next 15 years. The first part of the plan provides for the building of a new courthouse in Mulgrave St near Limerick prison on which work has begun.

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