The Galway City Council has thrown its support behind a proposed new pedestrian footbridge over the River Corrib, adjacent to the existing Salmon Weir Bridge and in front of the cathedral.
The project, if it secures planning permission, is estimated to cost in the region of €7.2 million with €3.5 million being provided by the EU European Regional Development Fund, if the council can secure permission to divert funds away from the Galway Library and Cultural Centre Development.
Senior engineer at the Galway City Council, Uinsinn Finn, told councillors at City Hall Monday night that the conceptual design stage has been completed and that construction was expected to commence at the end of 2020 and be finished by 2022.
Mr Finn said; “This bridge will complement the city’s walking and cycle network and will encourage more cyclists to cross River Corrib at a strategic crossing point, namely from the cathedral to the city centre area.
“The bridge will also lead to improvements to the public realms with plazas expected at the cathedral end and Newtownsmith side.”
Councillors warmly welcomed the news with long time supporter of the project Fine Gael councillor, Pádraig Conneely, saying the bridge “is something everyone can look forward to after many years”.
Cllr Conneely said; “[It was] Proposed 13 years ago. Unfortuntately it got lost over those years. This project will add to the development in the city and advance the public realm of the area. This will feed into the city’s masterplan and an overall project which can only be a benefit to the city.
“I don’t know how people have not been killed with the amount of traffic on the road. Thousands use it on a daily basis as students and tourists to cathedral. It is only a miracle how there havn’t been more accidents on this bridge. After 12 or 13 years, I commend the current manager to get the project going.”
Independent councillor Mike Cubbard told the chamber anything that improves walking around the city should be welcomed, with Cllr Colette Connolly declaring: “As someone who has declared Galway as pedestrian hostile, anything that supports walking in the city must be welcome.”
Galway city central councillor Frank Fahy did question the cost of the project citing other bridges’ costs.
He said; “Sam Thompson Bridge costed €500,000 in Belfast and was built by a company from the Republic of Ireland. Why is this [bridge] over €7 million here. My concern is value for money for the taxpayer.”
Chief executive of the Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, told the council it was a good news story but warned that the “European grant must be spent by 2021 to avail of it”.