Work began on the grounds of UCC yesterday to secure the pedestrian bridge over the river’s south channel in the hope it will open early next year.
The bridge is a key element of UCC’s privately-funded Environmental Plan which focuses on the quality of the external environment through the development of new pathways, courtyards and soft landscaping spaces.
Contractor L&M Keating lifted the structure, the 29th bridge in the city, onto sloping concrete buttresses built on the opposing river banks on Wednesday. Arches have been designed into the buttresses to allow for the passage of flood water.
The 25m bridge, supported by glued laminated or ‘glulam’ timber beams, now links Perrott’s Inch on the channel’s northern bank to the lower grounds on UCC’s campus below the Aula Maxima — midway between UCC’s main entrance and Gaol Cross.
The bridge, which will connect with a new campus entrance off Western Road, is the centrepiece of an overall scheme to open up Perrott’s Inch as a landscaped space for student, staff, and public use. The project design team is led by award-winning architects, O’Donnell & Tuomey, and is managed by UCC’s Buildings and Estates Office.
Mark Poland, head of the university’s buildings and estates office, said it will be a wonderful addition not just to the university’s infrastructure, but also to the city.
“There are provisions to create a pocket park at Perrott’s Inch which will be open and available to the public as well as students,” he said.
The bridge, which is tapered towards the campus side, has been installed at a slight angle to provide easy east-west pedestrian flow across the river at this point.
It has been positioned to connect the confluence of four pathways in the university’s lower grounds on the southern bank, and facilitate the extension of these riverside walks across the bridge, and along Perrott’s Inch to the car park near Gaol Cross. New pathways, trees and landscaping will be included.
UCC previously installed a bridge to link its Western Gateway Building on Western Rd to its Brookfield campus, and also provide land for the construction of the Millenium Bridge near North Mall.
Cork City Council is hoping to begin construction work next year on the 30th bridge over the river — another pedestrian bridge — this time over the Lee’s northern channel to link Merchant’s Quay to St Patrick’s Quay, where it will land at Harley St alongside the Metropole Hotel, where plans for a €50m revamp, including an extension, the development of a retail arcade and the development of an adjoining hotel called the ‘M’, were recently lodged.
Councillor John Sheehan has called for the bridge to be named after a woman and for the public have an input.
Talks are under way within City Hall to determine an agreed process by which the naming of the new bridge could be managed.