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Cork enhances city centre connectivity with new pedestrian bridge

Clare O'Loughlin Clare O'Loughlin Europe Press Office, Ireland
20 May 2019

Cork has unveiled its latest Lee river crossing, with the installation over the weekend of the Mary Elmes pedestrian and cycling bridge.

The bridge, a critical piece of public infrastructure designed to enhance connectivity in the city, will cut journey times for about 11,000 pedestrians and cyclists daily once it opens later this summer.

Cork City councillors chose to name the bridge after Cork woman, Mary Elmes, often described as the Irish Oskar Schindler for her heroism during World War II.

Cork's newest bridge was transferred up the river on a barge and was lifted into place onto the new abutments by two cranes.

The 165 tonne bridge, the city’s 31st crossing over the River Lee, was transferred up the river on a barge and was lifted into place onto the new abutments by two cranes (a 500-tonne and a 750-tonne crane).

Arup provided bridge, geotechnical, traffic and electrical engineering along with environmental and cost consultancy services on the 66m span steel bridge.

A simple, yet elegant, shallow arched structure was chosen for the bridge design, with a central spine beam forming an elliptical shape.


Arup also acted as project supervisor for the design process (PSDP), coordinating health and safety matters relating to the work of the designers throughout the design stage.

We developed an innovative lighting design solution, with energy efficient LED fittings embedded into the handrails, as well as tubular feature lighting below the deck, illuminating the spine beam and decking.

The structure was fabricated by Thompsons of Carlow in nine sections before being transported to Doyle’s Shipping Yard in Cobh for assembly. Over the course of the week from 13 May, the impressive structure was lifted by two cranes, operated by East Cork Crane Hire Ltd., onto a barge. It travelled up the river under the existing Michael Collins and Brian Boru Bridges, pulled by two tugboats, before being lowered into place across the north channel of the Lee.

It was very exciting to see Cork’s newest bridge lifted into place. Over the past two years, the close collaboration between the entire design team has resulted in an iconic piece of infrastructure, improving pedestrian and cycle links in the city. ”

Robert Ryan Robert Ryan Associate | Bridges and Civil Structures Talk to Robert

Funded by the EU and the National Transport Authority, the bridge has been designed to improve pedestrian and cycle connectivity between the city centre and the Victorian Quarter area.

The bridge is a key element of the wider Cork City Centre Movement Strategy and Cork Cycle Network, other projects in which Arup is involved. These seek to shape transport in and around Cork, making it a more accessible, sustainable city.

View of the Mary Elmes Bridge over the River Lee View of the Mary Elmes Bridge over the River Lee

The bridge, a critical piece of public infrastructure designed to enhance connectivity in the city, will cut journey times for about 11,000 pedestrians and cyclists daily.