THE new €1.8 million footbridge onto the Mizen Head in Co Cork is in line for a number of prestigious awards.
It has been shortlisted for a heritage award by the Institute of Structural Engineers, headquartered in Westminster, London.
County engineer Noel O’Keeffe hopes the Westminster connection is a good omen. “The original bridge, completed in 1909, was designed by Noel Ridley and built by Alfred Thorne & company. Both were based in Westminster at the time. The original bridge cost £1,272 to construct,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
The Mizen bridge was paid for by Cork County Council, Fáilte Ireland and the Commissioner of Irish Lights. Representatives from the three organisations will visit Westminster next month, where they will present a paper on the bridge to the Institute of Structural Engineers. The winners of the award will be notified in October.
Meanwhile, the Mr O’Keefe revealed the concrete bridge had also been shortlisted for an excellence award by Engineers Ireland. “We hope that we will win some of these awards because it is a spectacular construction,” Mr O’Keeffe said. The council also built a series of elevated viewing platforms on the island at a cost of €400,000.
The spectacular bridge, which spans across a deep-sea inlet at Mizen Head linking the mainland to Cloghan Island, is up against a string of other presitgious projects, including Derry’s Peace Bridge and Trinity College’s Biomedical Science Building.
The Footbridge, which is the only short-listed project from the Munster region, sits 45m high over a sea gorge of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2007, it was decided to remove the original infrastructure as it was surrering from severe reinforcement corrosion and spalling of concrete.
In 2009, Cork Co. Council agreed to undertake the construction of the replacement footbridge. The design of the replacement footbridge is similar to the older existing bridge, though the new amenity is slightly wider.
The overall cost of the project, which was financed by Failte Ireland, Cork Co. Council and Irish Lights was €1.8 million.
The bridge is well known as a thriving visitor centre and has been operating at Mizen Head since 1993.
The footbridge plays a major role in the local tourism industry, providing access to the most south-westerly point of Ireland and offering stunning views of the coastline and the marine environment.
The winning project will be judged on the largest number of online votes received by midnight on November 3 with the winner announced at an awards ceremony on December 4.
Everyone who knows and loves this bridge can cst their votes online at http://www.engineersireland.ie/about-us/what-we-do/excellence-awards/
Above extracts from Irish Examiner 18 August and Irish Examiner County 27 September.