The new cycleway bridge to cross the River Shannon will be installed towards the end of this month.
A significant moment in the recent history of Athlone, the bridge, which is currently being assembled into three sections at Wansboro Park (following its manufacture in Seville ), will be transported along the river and when installed will cross the river from the Radisson Blu Hotel to the Luan Gallery.
Expected to open for use by the public in April 2023, it will be the fourth bridge to cross the River Shannon in Athlone and the first to be constructed since the relief road bridge opened to traffic over 30 years ago in March 1991.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Darren Fulham, an executive engineer with Westmeath County Council, noted that the bridge will present a spectacular site when it is put into place over a period of approximately 10 days towards the end of the month.
“These are exciting times for the project as we approach a significant milestone in the project as the lifting of the bridge into position is due to take place over the last week in August and the first week in September.
“This will provide the public with first sight of what the bridge will look like when complete. The steel bridge structure was manufactured in 13 modules in Seville and transported to site at Wansboro Park over the past few weeks and these sections are currently being assembled to form three main sections of the bridge with a total length exceeding 100 metres.
“Each of the sections, weighing approximately 150 tonnes each, will be launched from Wansboro Park using jacks on a skid beam system, floated along the River Shannon on barges and jacked into their final position using specialised jacking equipment onto permanent and temporary supports. The process will take two to three days per section and as there will be a lot of activity on the river for these works boat management will be in place to ensure safe navigation of passing boat traffic.
“The three sections are then fixed together at the temporary supports which are currently visible in the river. Over the past couple of weeks the contractor, Jon’s Civil Engineering Ltd, has been constructing the central pier to the bridge which will become visible to the public in the coming days as it emerges for the central cofferdam. The installation of the steel sections provides the backbone to the project which needs to be infilled with reinforced concrete in the coming weeks to allow for removal of temporary supports thereafter with works to construct approach ramps and boardwalk will follow over the coming months.
“The objective at the moment is to get the structure into its final position and fixed together in position in its final resting place between the Radisson Blu Hotel and the Luan Gallery before the end of September. The target date for the project remains unchanged and the cycleway bridge expected to be open for public use from Easter 2023,” Mr Fulham stated.