New Barrow Bridge 'will be a tourist attraction'
The new Barrow Bridge will be unique in the world and a tourist attraction for the area, the area director, engineer Eamonn Hore told a packed meeting in New Ross Library on Tuesday night.
Mr Hore said the bridge is costing €90m to build and will be the longest in the country at 887m once it is completed. The Red Bridge two miles south of New Ross will be the third largest bridge and Mr Hore said between the Greenway, which will access the Red Bridge and the Barrow Bridge, New Ross will have two new tourist attractions to add to its current offerings.
The meeting heard that Mr Hore is an engineer by vocation and has spent his entire adult life working on engineering projects.
Mr Hore said when he qualified as a civil engineer in 1979 there were six women in his class of 300. 'Today New Ross has a woman engineer as town and district manager and Mary Bowe has a significant input into the bridge so there are two women doing Trojan work in the New Ross district.'
Mr Hore gave a brief, entertaining outline of the history of road construction in Ireland. He said some people have said putting plastic cones at the town side of O'Hanrahan Bridge solved the problem of tailbacks in and out of New Ross.
'You can still get held up for 20 to 30 minutes and there has been 125 accidents on the N25 stretch from 2005 to 2011. If there is a problem on the bridge there is a 32km diversion.'
The bypass was first mentioned in the County Development Plan of 1993/1994. Contracts were signed with BAM Iridium and Dragados in January 2016, with work starting the following month.
'There were lots of combinations of roads looked at and from 46 options it was whittled down to five and two were seriously looked at.'
He said there were protests against the bypass and also against the Enniscorthy bypass but today we are month 26 into a 40 month schedule of works.
'The road will open in spring 2019; it's very much on schedule to open. Part of this project happens to be inside the Kilkenny border.'
The foundations of the bridge are very advanced and Mr Hore showed aerial shots of the sweeping roadways and the rounadbout and slip road construction sites from Corcoran's Cross to Ballymacar and on to Stokestown and along the Barrow taking in Arnestown, Camblin and Creacon, where exists are being built.
The bypass finishes at the Glenmore roundabout.'
The Barrow Bridge - which lies 6km south of O'Hanrahan Bridge - will be the eight bridge built in the vicinity of New Ross town. The first was built by William Marshal, 'The Greatest Knight', and opened in 1207, followed by bridges built under orders from the English in 1313, 1450, 1649, 1796, 1869 and O'Hanrahan Bridge in 1967.
New Ross was without a bridge for 150 years with a ferry bringing people between New Ross and Rosbercon.
The Barrow Bridge is a three-tower extradose bridge, which, at its height, is 36 metres above the Barrow, the highest in the country.
It will be 26 metres longer than the Foyle Bridge in Derry and will feature nine spans, including two central spans of 230m.
'It will be the longet bridge of its kind in the world. It's a significant engineering achievement.'
Three temporary piers have been erected to ensure the bridge stands correctly. 'They are of the very same standard as the other piers and will all come down once the bridge is built.
The piles have been bored further into the riverbed than the distrance from the river to the bridge.
'They went down 40m. Span 1 and Span 2 at Pink Rock have falsework which supports the structure and which will ultimately support the concrete for the bridge which will be a mix of cablestay and decking which gives it its unique extradose shape. It's a beautiful, spectacular bridge.'
1.2m m3 of earthworks (150 truck loads) have been used to date on the bypass and over 100,000 m3 of blacktop, along with 3,750 truck loads of concrete, 500km of cable strand. More than 800,000 man hours have been worked on the project.
Mr Hore said the bypass will not negatively affect New Ross.
He said signage will play a significant role in attracting drivers into the town, showing images of a Norman helmet and signage for visitor attractions like the Ros Tapestry, The Emigrant Flame and the Dunbrody Visitor Centre on a slide show screen behind him.
'We spent an awful lot of time redesigning them.
'New Ross will be a destination town, with the traffic gone out of it. It will be a beautiful town to visit and the bridge is a €90m tourist attraction opening in New Ross in 2019. It will be much nicer than the Waterford bridge which has 19m clearance.'
He said the bypass will save driver's lives and less people will suffer serious injury while driving. 'Motorways are seven times safer than normal roads. Over the next 15 years ten people will be alive from using the motorway.'
He said the motorway will open up New Ross and district to inward investment and business openings as everywhere will be closer. 'So this is good for the county and it is good for New Ross. Mallow have been trying to get a bypass and say it would mean a €50m boost for the town and a 5-10 pre cent increase in employment. People have started to invest in New Ross. A study of bypasses shows that they have not had a negative impact on towns that have a critical mass of above 2,000 to 3,000 people. They increase land values. So long as businesses and commercial companies capitalise on changes wrought by the bypass. It's happening at a time when economic and community investment is being put into the county so I do think it's happening at the right time.'
Describing the bypass as brilliant for New Ross, he said it will relieve traffic congestion and make New Ross a nicer town to visit.
An audience member asked if wind loads have been factored in as the Foyle Bridge has to close at times of high winds.
'Unless it's unnatural conditions, no, it won't close.'
A man asked if roads at either side of the bypass - stretching to Waterford and Enniscorthy - will be improved and was told by Cllr Fidelis Doherty that plans have been submitted for the Glenmore to Waterford stretch to be improved.
Wexford County Council Roads Liaison Officer Sean Dobbs said cyclists will be able to cross the bridge, but there will be no cycle lanes. 'It's a wide dual carraigeway with hard shoulders and a raised up standing area.'
The road will be toll free, as will the Enniscorthy to Gorey bypass.
Former Senior Executive Engineer for the New Ross Area, George Walsh said the idea for the bridge arose after a ship ran into O'Hanrahan Bridge in 1997. He said NRA officials visited the town and a lengthy diversion made people realise that a newe bridge was needed.
New Ross Standard