The new bridge opened to traffic this morning.
The new St Francis Bridge in Kilkenny City and the Central Access Scheme is now officially open to traffic.
At 11am this morning - and not a minute before - city engineer Seamus Kavanagh gave the nod to Sergeant Canice O' Gorman, who signalled colleagues at either end of the scheme to clear away the barriers. The traffic lights were switched, on and the first few vehicles began to appear.
A crowd of around 40 people had gathered for a look. Some, such as former councillor Paul Cuddihy, said he was delighted to see it finally open; others, including several local residents, remain very concerned over what it will mean for traffic in their area.
Understandably, motorists appeared somewhat hesitant as they initially navigated the structure. However, within a few minutes, a steady volume of road users, cyclists and pedestrians began to appear.
There was evidence of some early teething issues with traffic, particularly at the junction with Vicar Street on the west side, and the junction with Wolfe Tone Street on the east. Representatives from Kilkenny County Council and engineers will be remaining on the site to monitor traffic flow and make adjustments accordingly.
A traffic plan is to be prepared over the coming weeks, and presented to members, along with public consultation.
An official opening ceremony for the St Francis Bridge will take place next Tuesday morning.