As work continues apace on the controversial Central Access Scheme, the question a lot of people have been asking is ‘how will new bridge look?’
The €10.7 million project involves the construction of 700 metres of a new road across the former mart and the brewery sites, with a new River Nore bridge crossing. It was approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2011, but only after a revised EIS with a number of design changes.
The initial proposed design – a cable stay bridge with extensive retaining walls and an underpass on the Diageo site – was considered inappropriate for the ‘sensitive and prominent location’ within the historic core.
The new EIS states that the cable-stay bridge has been replaced by a ‘simpler, more elegant structure’, and incorporated features such as a lighter structure for the pedestrian deck, a viewing platform allowing for visitors, and a separate pedestrian link through existing trees at the Peace Park connecting to Michael Street. It says that to facilitate the lower profile of the proposed bridge, supporting piers are to be built in the River Nore – the work that is now under way.
The main CAS street will accommodate two 3.5-metre lanes for traffic in either direction, and two parallel cycle lanes 1.5 metres wide at road level. Footways will be provided on both sides of the street.
In general, these footpaths will be two metres wide and will be raised behind the roadside kerbs. On the actual bridge, the footways will be widened to three metres. This would see the width of the bridge extend to 16 metres.
However, there will be a further widened ‘observation platform’ above the river bank on the south-east side of the crossing. The width of the bridge will be up to 19.75 metres at the site of this viewing platform.
To put this in context, John’s Bridge has a 6.6 metre-wide carriageway with a 1.5 metre footpath on each side.
The proposed five-span arrangement will be supported by four pairs of columns, with two of these pairs located within the River Nore. The remaining two pairs of columns and the concrete abutments at each end are to be located on the riverbanks on each side.
In the wake of the An Bord Pleanála decision, Heritage Council chief executive Michael Starrett said: “Whilst the Heritage Council made clear that it felt the new bridge was inappropriately located, the conditions that An Bord Pleanála has imposed today regarding the redesign of the bridge reflect and take account of the heritage issues and historic setting of Kilkenny.”
The bridge’s vertical alignment has been governed by a need to ensure the bridge structure maintains adequate clearance above predicted flood levels; to facilitate Riverside Park and walkways – adequate headroom is needed to provide for riverside walks on both sides; and to tie into the junction of Greensbridge Street and Michael Street.