You’d have to hope that the article that appeared in today’s Limerick Leader was wildly inaccurate. Alas, it bears all the signs of being close enough to the truth. Limerick City (and County) Council is actually considering building a footbridge between Arthur’s Quay Park and King John’s Castle. Why? Well, there’s funding available from Fáilte Ireland and this is the best way of wasting it (just my guess).
But what’s being proposed isn’t simply a huge waste of money. That in itself would be bad enough, and nothing new for the Council. Worse than the loss of a few million euro would be the permanent damage the proposed plan would do to Limerick. The river amenity, and particularly that stretch between King John’s Castle and Sarsfield Bridge is our city’s most valuable natural asset. Tampering with it on the whim of a council official is a terrible idea.
For starters, it’s not needed. Much could be done with the existing route between Arthur’s Quay Park and King John’s Castle. Sarsfield House is due for demolition. When it comes down, and the area is remodelled under the Limerick 2030 plan, there’ll be no restriction as far as the Potato Market. It too is earmarked for some kind of redevelopment, so access through to the courthouse can easily be designed and facilitated. There’s already a boardwalk around the courthouse, and once you’ve walked along that you’re as far as the city hall (it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it will be knocked in the next ten years too) and there’s no real restriction from there to the castle.
As well as being not necessary, this development, if it goes ahead, will significantly compromise what is probably the most impressive riverside vista in Ireland (notwithstanding the current eyesores that are Sarsfield House and the civic offices). There’s also the practical considerations. How will the proposed bridge facilitate boating traffic? Unless there’s some kind of high span or opening element, it simply won’t. Furthermore, using the weir as a structural foundation is surely fanciful in the extreme?
It’s possible that the positive spin being put out in the article above will rub off on a lot of people in Limerick (if it’s new and shiny, it must be good, right??), but I’ve no doubt the plan will attract very strong opposition from many quarters. Those who use the river regularly, those who value the heritage of the city, or those who enjoy that impressive vista between King John’s Castle and Sarsfield Bridge are likely to do what they can to stop it going ahead. I would be surprised if they didn’t succeed. Equally, anybody who has concern about how the local authority administers its budget must be aghast at the notion of scarce funds being spent on a feasibility study for such an unnecessary project, let alone on the project itself.
If the council has any sense it should scrap this idea and not spend another cent on it.