The possibility of a second city centre road bridge, crossing the River Suir from the Mall/Tower Hotel junction to Abbey Road in Ferrybank has been ruled out by Waterford’s City Manager.

Michael Walsh was reacting to queries made by Councillors Mary Roche and Cha O’Neill following a presentation made to the Council by urban designer Conor Norton (of Loci) regarding the long-touted North Wharf development.

Addressing Monday night’s meeting of Waterford City Council, Cllr Roche said that the provision of an additional river crossing at the Tower/Mall location “would truly unite Ferrybank and the city”.

It would also be indicative of a City Council looking a decade down the line, when the population of Waterford is expected to hit the 70,000 mark, she added.

In reply, Mr Walsh referred to the Council’s Management and Transportation study in addressing the issue of a ‘third’ river crossing. “The second, or, depending or your point of view, third bridge at the Tower Hotel is something that has been seriously examined,” he said.

“But the bridge, at this potential location, does not work… (as) the traffic load could not be handled on this side of the river coming onto the Mall. Would a bridge in that location solve traffic problems? No.”

Continued Mr Walsh: “That’s why the Management and Transportation study proposes a bridge at the Ardkeen area which would connect to the Outer Ring Road, a crossing that wouldn’t access the city centre but would instead feed Belview and the employment areas of the future.”

Mr Walsh added that a bridge in the Ardkeen vicinity would also allow the Council to cross the Suir at a high level, something which wouldn’t be possible at the Tower Hotel/Mall junction.

Councillors warmly welcomed the final draft of Loci’s North Quays Urban Development Plan, which aims to connect the derelict north bank area to the Clock Tower via a pedestrian bridge, as reported here last week.

Loci’s vision for the North Wharf would, according to Mr Norton, herald “an innovative extension of the city centre with the opportunity to connect the city and Ferrybank, where a rich quality of life and unique sense of place (could) be experienced by residents, workers and visitors alike”.

While legal issues continue to hold up the North Wharf project, no one can point an accusatory finger in Iarnród Éireann’s direction when it comes to the ongoing delay of the development, according to Cllr O’Neill.

“As a member of the Board of CIE, I can safely say that it’s not CIE who are holding this (development) up,” he said.