EXCITING plans are being put in place for a footbridge connecting Arthur’s Quay to King John’s Castle.
Limerick City and County Council’s economic department has launched a feasibility study with Failte Ireland to deliver a an “iconic” footbridge, potentially based on Derry’s Peace Bridge.
Outgoing economic director Tom Enright says the project is “something that could really change the face of the city centre”.
He says the project - estimated cost €3m - could be delivered in just three years, and at a relatively small cost. He said at present, access from Arthur’s Quay to King John’s Castle is complicated, with tourists having to travel past Sarsfield House and down Nicholas Street, before getting to a site he describes as “he main tourist attraction in the city”.
“What we are looking at is, rather than having a river walk, which is what we have done with the boardwalks, we are looking to run a bridge from Arthur’s Quay,” he explained.
Mr Enright - who hands over the economic portfolio to regeneration director Oliver O’Loughlin from Monday - hopes the bridge will be a real landmark for the city, pointing to the success the Living Bridge at UL has enjoyed. He hopes a competition process to come up with a design can begin soon.
Referring to Derry’s Peace bridge, he says: “I think what we are looking at is a smaller version of that. Something which changes shape between horizontal and vertical.”
The weir in place around that part of the Shannon could be used as part support for the bridge, he says.
“At night-time if you are driving into the city across the Shannon Bridge, you will see this fabulous structure on the water. It is not huge money, and I think it will happen fairly quickly,” Mr Enright predicted.
With only limited parking available around the castle area, Arthur’s Quay could be used as a drop-off area for tourists to complete the rest of the route on foot.
“What you have here is a river footbridge, which will invite you from the city square to walk and take in the scenery,” he said.
Under the Limerick 2030 economic plan, the tax office Sarsfield House will be demolished to create a ‘front garden for the city’.
Although the economic director has admitted this is still some years away, he said it will be worth the wait.
From Arthur’s Quay Park, “you will see the castle, the cathedral, the river and the courthouse, which will be the seat of local government.”
Meanwhile, another city project could get under way later this year.
The Hanging Gardens development at Henry Street has lain idle since its original developer Robert Butler fell into financial difficulties, and his companies went into NAMA.
The site went on the market for almost €1 million earlier this year, and Mr Enright is confident it will get a new lease of life soon.