Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?

Home Forums Ireland well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ? Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?

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Bridging the future . . . Clare to here just got closer

Tom Lyons

A �100m bridge across the Shannon could help turn the midwest into a gateway to Europe.

As our images reveal if the 3km bridge was completed it would take around 36km or up to an hour at peak times off the driving time from Foynes Port in county Limerick to Shannon airport.

Using an underground �380m tunnel which is planned for near Limerick the total journey is reduced by just 5km.

However, the promoters of the bridge, the Shannon Foynes Port Company, said that projected growth in the midwest meant the bridge and tunnel would complement each other by improving overall access to the region.

The bridge which is only at the feasibility stage is part of a strategy by the Shannon Foynes Port Company to work with other state agencies to create a “counterbalance” to the east coast of the country.

Combined with the completion of the duel carriage-way between Ennis in Clare and Galway it would more than double the existing catchment area of Shannon airport to more than 700,000 people.

The Shannon Foynes Port Company, which manages ports in the Shannon estuary including Limerick and Foynes, commissioned a study by engineering giant Parsons Brinkerhoff to examine the possibility of a bridge.

The international group concluded that a pre-cast bridge could be built in less than a year for under �100m.

The bridge would have a 100m wide navigational span which would be 30m above the Shannon estuary’s mean high-water point to allow shipping get through.

Shannon Foynes is also conducting a review of its 45 acres of port property in Limerick city which could transform the docklands by creating a new “enterprise centre”.

Such a development could release up to �100m in equity for the port company to expand its deep port facilities downstream in Foynes and invest in the bridge in what would probably be a public-private partnership arrangement.

Port chairman Kieran MacSweeney said he hoped the bridge would be included in the National Development Plan from 2006 to 2012.

“The bridge would be sufficiently further downstream that it would enhance and be in addition to the tunnel in Limerick.”

He added: “This will need to get support from the NRA and the local authorities. It is a major project but one that brings major benefit. We are in the middle of discussing the opportunities.

“It should be viewed as integrated and uniting the region.”

“We believe it fits perfectly with our plans on the basis that we will have the equity to pursue such an opportunity on the back of developments in Limerick,” Mr MacSweeney said.

“You are talking about four or five years before such a bridge could became realised.

“But we have to start looking that far ahead,” said the chairman who is also managing director of Avocent International, a US multinational.

“This region is getting bigger. We have to start looking at what the population base will be and what the infrastructural requirements will be in three to 10 years time.

“We also hope to create an international port complex with a transhipment hub downstream in Foynes.”

“We see Rotterdam and other European ports becoming congested.”

Mr MacSweeney added: “We see a huge opportunity evolving for the west of Ireland if we can leverage the transhipment hub complex.

“We have been talking about it for 20 years but now is the time to do it.”

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