The possibility of a bridge linking Abbey Road to the Mall at the Tower Hotel has not been ruled out – but isn’t occupying any immediate thoughts in the City Manager’s office.
The third bridge idea was once again floated during the debate which preceded Waterford City Council’s adoption of the framework plan for the North Quays.
“I don’t accept that a second bridge at the Tower isn’t feasible,” said Cllr Mary Roche, mindful of City Manager Michael Walsh’s less than favourable comments on such a project when previously debated.
Cllr Roche said that the construction of a city centre bridge, “rather than just a bypass” crossing proceeding at Grannagh was something that Waterford as a gateway city required.
While Mr Walsh said that the ‘third’ bridge idea didn’t “warrant investment” in the current economic climate, he added that it’s a proposition the Council could return to in the future.
Regarding the North Quay, Mayor Jack Walsh said the site represents “an unprecedented development opportunity for our river city and we owe it to future generations to ensure that we get this right from a planning perspective”.
For his part, Michael Walsh said that the framework “presents a great opportunity” for the Council but also presents “specific challenges and constraints”.
He added: “In terms of the overall vision for development on the North Quays, I am satisfied that the work done to date will provide us with a good mix of heights, architectural design and forms so that we don’t simply get an unimaginative block of development stretching from Rice Bridge down to the abbey opposite the Tower Hotel.”
Despite Government deferral of monies from the Gateway Innovation Fund (GIF), the Manager confirmed that the Council intends to proceed with “detailed design work” on a pedestrian bridge linking the North Quays and the Clock Tower.
“If the North Quays are to be an integrated and fully functioning part of the city centre, then it is vital that they be connected and the pedestrian bridge is crucial in that regard,” he told Councillors.
“Given this and the fact that the Gateway Innovation Fund has been deferred rather than dropped, we are proceeding with work on the bridge design.”
Councillors were pleased that the plan was now in place, with Cllr Tom Cunningham stating it demonstrated “that we are, as a city, very much open for business”.