The O’Shaughnessy Bridge which was constructed as part of an initiative to promote walking and cycling in the city was officially launched recently by new Mayor of Galway city, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty, along with Keith Warnock, the vice-president for capital projects at NUI Galway.
The bridge, which crosses the Eglinton Canal, is an suspension bridge of about 50 metres and is designed to be used by both pedestrians and cyclists as part of a wider scheme, the Smarter Travel initiative, which aims to promote sustainable travel.
The project involved the design and construction of two bridges - the main one spanning the Eglinton Canal and a smaller one spanning a nearby mill race - and will provide a vital link between Fisheries Field and the NUI Galway campus. The project was promoted on a partnership basis by NUI Galway and Galway City Council. It required €1 million in financing from the National Sustainable Travel Office in the Department of Transport, with additional funds being provided by Galway University Foundation and the university itself.
Speaking at the launch, Cllr O’Flaherty said: “This joint initiative between Galway Transportation Unit and NUI Galway is a credit to all involved. In particular this bridge plays a significant role in the increase in walking and cycling in the city by providing a high quality channel by which pedestrians and cyclists alike can avail. It offers potential to reduce car dependency in key areas of the city by offering commuters and pedestrian travel options.”
The bridge is named after Michael O'Shaughnessy (1864-1934 ) who graduated in civil engineering from NUI Galway (then Queen's College Galway ) in 1884. In 1912 he was appointed chief engineer of the city of San Francisco. He undertook the building of new infrastructure for the city after the disastrous earthquake and fires of 1906, including the construction of the Twin Peaks tunnel, the famous Seashore Wall, the streetcar (tramway ) system, and the San Francisco Water-Supply and Electric-Power project, involving dams, powerhouses and 160 miles of transmission towers, pipelines, and tunnels the whole way to the city. As city engineer, O'Shaughnessy also commissioned the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. The O'Shaughnessy Dam was named in his honour and provides water and electricity to 2.4 million people in the city of San Francisco, San Mateo County, Alameda County, and the San Joaquin Valley.