The series of bridges which connect the community of Old Bridge with Clonmel reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic last Friday. The bridges had been closed to traffic since January 2011 while each of four bridges were rebuilt as part of the Clonmels Flood Relief Scheme.
Users of the bridges, particularly pedestrians, will benefit from greater space along the new road layout. The width of footpaths on all of the bridges have been significantly increased.
The works started in January 2011 at Old Bridge, the bridge closest to Clonmel town centre. This bridge is a protected structure and parts of the arches of this bridge have been shown to date from medieval times and care was needed to preserve these features. Once completed on Old Bridge the Contractor continued south along the series of four bridges.
The most recent bridge to be completed is the Dry Bridge. The former bridge at this location was a multi arch stone bridge. The recently constructed bridge at this location is a more modern and contemporary structure of concrete, stainless steel and glass.
Etchings have been included on the glass parapets which reflect the path of the river from “Turn of Abbey” to Sir Thomas’s Bridge. Also included in the etchings are river musings and experiences. The etchings were designed by local architect Kenneth Hennessy in conjunction with local community groups. By virtue of its name the Dry Bridge does not actually span a flowing river. Indeed the river will only flow under this bridge during flood conditions. During more significant floods, water will be allowed flow over the deck of Dry Bridge. This will be facilitated by the erection of demountable barriers across the road at either end of the bridge and the folding down of the glass parapets onto the deck of the bridge.
While the opening of the bridges is a significant milestone for the Flood Relief Scheme it does not signify the completion of the project in Clonmel. The current contract is likely to be ongoing for a number of months, indeed the area directly adjacent to the Dry Bridge has yet to be completed. This is due to the unseasonably wet summer which has resulted in higher than normal river levels. In addition there are also a number of minor contracts which are required to be completed. Nonetheless the works which are outstanding will only have a limited impact on the public in Clonmel.
The Office of Public Works, together with Clonmel Borough Council and Ward and Burke Construction, would like to thank the general public and business community within Clonmel and particularilly the Old Bridge Community for their continued support and patience while the works have been ongoing.