Wednesday 26 June 2019

Bridge to ‘meet in middle’ in July

Major progress can be seen on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy bridge.
Major progress can be seen on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy bridge.

David Looby

The longest bridge in Ireland and a unique feat of design and engineering globally - the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge - will be completed in July.

Project Liaison Officer Sean Dobbs, of Wexford County Council, confirmed that the bridge is due to meet in the middle in July.

Mr Dobbs said people are witnessing history in the making as construction on the massive 887m bridge nears its conclusion. A new Portuguese crew has been drafted in to help finish the bridge, which is at the heart of a 14km bypass of New Ross town, stretching from Corcoran's Cross roundabout to Glenmore.

'It's progressing very well and is due to be completed in quarter four,' Mr Dobbs said.

The dual carriageway includes the world's longest three tower extradosed bridge, a type of cable-stay structure, spanning the River Barrow.

Traffic will not be on the bridge and bypass until late autumn, early winter, Mr Dobbs confirmed, as once the bridge's central spans - which are the longest in the world - meet, a significant amount of work will remain to be completed, including final improvements, the installation of monitoring equipment and finishing works, meaning crews will be on site throughout the autumn.

Mr Dobbs said the bridge's construction has captured the public's imagination, as reflected in the hundreds of photographs posted online of the structure every month.

'It has generated a lot of interest on social media and has attracted international attention also. It will be the longest bridge in Ireland at almost 900m and it features the longest central type span of its kind in the world.'

Camera crews have been recording the bridge as it nears completion and it has already featured in engineering magazines abroad.

Describing the structure as a world leader in terms of design and engineering, Mr Dobbs said the project is on track, while all the roads on either side of the Barrow have also been completed.

'It's progressing very well. From the public's point of view the feedback I am getting is that they are really noticing all the progress that is being made on the bridge and I think it is looking particularly spectacular at the moment,' he said in a radio interview recently.

'To see the bridge decks which are being constructed over the river from both sides. When you look at it, it is as if the bridge decks are hanging in mid-span over the river. Week on week the spans are progressing and getting closer and closer together so it's very evident what the final bridge is going to look like.

'We are getting closer and closer so it looks like the bridge decks will met in the middle - probably in July.'

He said the construction programme is very challenging but the project remains on track for the latest estimate for the bypass opening. The great news for commuters is that the drive time to Waterford will be significantly reduced. Mr Dobbs said the new route from New Ross to Waterford and Wexford will be reduced, adding that the journey time from Waterford to New Ross will be reduced as the bypass route is shorter.

He said the days of 7km tailbacks coming in to New Ross at peak times will be over, adding that with less trucks passing through New Ross, opportunities will open up for business.

New Ross Standard