Mary Elmes Bridge to be installed in the city centre next month

Cork’s newest bridge, the 165 tonne Mary Elmes Bridge, will be transported by barge from the Cobh shipping yard where it was assembled to its city centre location next month.

The pedestrian and cycle bridge, which will connect Patricks Quay and Merchants Quay and will be used by up to 11,000 people each day, was fabricated by Thompsons of Carlow. In February and March, it was transported overnight in nine sections to Doyle’s Shipping Yard opposite Cobh train station.

Harley street bridge

On the week of May 13, the bridge will be lifted onto a barge using the combined lifting power of a 500 tn crane and a 750 tn crane. Two tugboats will assist the barge as it travels upriver to the bridge’s new home. It’s expected that it will pass under Brian Boru Bridge, near the Clayton Hotel, on the following Thursday or Friday, May 16 or 17, before being deposited on the city quays, awaiting lift.

The same two 500 and 750 tonne cranes, which lifted the bridge in Cobh, will be erected on Merchants Quay and St Patrick’s Quay late on Friday night. On Saturday, subject to suitable weather conditions, the cranes will raise the bridge’s superstructure from the barge and place it on the newly-built abutments (supports) on the quays.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn said: “After a vibrant public consultation process, Cork City Council voted to name this new piece of city infrastructure as the Mary Elme's Bridge, often described as the Irish Oskar Schindler for her heroism during World War II. This new bridge will be one of the key elements in a plan to promote and develop transport in and around the city. The installation of the bridge itself will be a historic moment for the city and I encourage people to turn up and view it from the river banks."

Pedestrian access in the vicinity of the works will be facilitated where possible. To facilitate the public’s safe viewing of the bridge lift, pedestrian railings will be put in place.

Traffic diversions will begin on Merchants Quay and St Patrick’s Quay from 10pm on the Friday night as the cranes are erected. It’s expected that the bridge installation will be completed and the cranes removed the following day, weather permitting. 

Alternative traffic routes will be in operation:

  • Merchants Quay eastbound traffic will be diverted via Bridge Street, Mac Curtain Street and Brian Boru Street.
  • St Patrick’s Quay westbound traffic will be diverted via Brian Boru Bridge, Andersons Quay, Custom House Street, N27 Albert Street, Old Station Road, Sullivan’s Quay. Merchants Quay.
  • Westbound traffic will be diverted via Andersons Quay, Custom House Street, N27 Albert St, Old Station Road, Sullivan’s Quay.

The Mary Elmes Bridge in numbers:

  • The bridge has a clear span of 66m from St Patricks Quay to Merchants Quay.
  • Each of the two bridge buttresses contains 148 cubic metres of concrete and 24 tonnes of steel.
  • The bridge superstructure consists of 165 tonnes of steel plate which form a central spine beam with cantilevered steel decks. For ease of construction and transportation, the superstructure was subdivided into nine sections. The nine bridge sections were joined together in Doyles Shipping Yard in Cobh.
  • The bridge spine beam varies in depth and width for structural and aesthetic reasons. The overall depth of the spine beam varies from 2m to 1.6m. It is fabricated from varying steel plate thicknesses of 20mm, 30mm & 50mm.
  • Flood protection barriers will be integrated into the parapet walls, meaning that in the event of a particularly high flood, the bridge ends can be closed by pulling across the integrated flood barriers.
  • Lighting on the bridge will be provided by  energy efficient LED fittings recessed into the handrails. Below deck feature lighting will also be used to highlight the spine beam.
  • The bridge’s  underfoot surface will consist of resin bound fine grained grit.