Arc in park offers Dublin a new view
Stephen Oâ€™Brien, Irish Political Correspondent
THE Arc in the Park is set to become Dublinâ€™s next landmark. Intended to be the cityâ€™s longest pedestrian bridge, the curved walkway will span the Liffey and link the Phoenix Park to the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham.
The dramatic addition to Dublinâ€™s skyline will be the signature feature of an ambitious â‚¬500m development being planned by the government for a neglected corner of the city centre.
Opening up the Phoenix Park to southsiders for the first time, the contintental-style walkway is likely to become one of Dublinâ€™s top attractions for tourists and residents looking for a Sunday afternoon stroll.
The pedestrian and cycle bridge will be more than half a mile long, and will stand 100 feet above the Liffey. It is intended to have an eye-catching structure, making a striking impression over the main road and rail gateway into the capital from the west and south.
If it survives as part of Dublinâ€™s emerging development plan, due to go on public display this autumn in draft form, the bridge will be a joint project involving the city council, Irish Rail and the Office of Public Works (OPW), the state property agency.
Tom Parlon, the minister in charge of the OPW, said his agency was strongly in favour of the bridge. The proposal has been welcomed by An Taisce, the national trust, and the customary objectors to ambitious or large-scale development plans.
Parlon will seek planning permission in the next month for a large apartment, office and cultural development in Military Road at the southern end of the bridge. The development is part of the governmentâ€™s plan to sell off unwanted real estate, and follows an OPW audit of all state properties.
The 14-acre wasteland, one quarter-owned by Eircom, the phone company, will be sold once planning permission is secured for 650 apartments, 750,000-sq-ft of office space, a public park, and a new theatre and exhibition space of the neighbouring Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital. The final value of the fully developed site, which includes an 18-storey apartment tower, could top â‚¬500m, according to estimates by the OPW, the project designers. But this will be left to private-sector developers to realise. The OPW is legally barred from risk-taking and plans to sell the site once planning permission for the development is secured.
Parlon said the Military Road property scheme and the innovative bridge project is intended to counter-balance the high-rise gateway at the International Financial Services Centre to the east of the city.
The walkway and cycle path will start at ground level and the main public entrance to the Royal Hospital in Military Road.
It will follow the arc of the Road, standing 20 to 30 feet above street level as the ground slopes to the junction with St Johnâ€™s Road, the main N4/N7 dual carriageway into the city.
The bridge will span the rail lines at the rear of Heuston Station, allowing better access to the countryâ€™s largest railway terminus.
It will stand between 80 and 100 feet above the low-water mark as it crosses the Liffey, before the ground rises steeply again up the riverâ€™s northern bank.
The near semi-circular arc will then meet the level of the rising ground in the Phoenix Park, about half-way between the main gate of the park and the Wellington Monument.
The bridge will offer striking new perspectives of Dublin city and the walled Liffey quays to the east, and the riverâ€™s more pastoral, meandering course from the west along the Strawberry Beds past Chapelizod to the weir at Islandbridge.
Parlon said: â€œThe Military Road project will provide the kind of quality, urban mix of development we need to be aiming for in the future in order to redress the imbalance in Dublinâ€™s outward development.â€
The development will include social and affordable housing â€” 20% of the total and will provide homes to some 1,500 people and work space for another 5,000.
The first initiative in the state property sale was announced last month with a decision to sell a site in Lad Lane, off Baggot Street in Dublin, which is expected to make about â‚¬15m when it goes on the market in the next fortnight.