In November 2022, the Government approved €170m in funding for the Waterford City Public Infrastructure Project. The project will deliver the infrastructure necessary to service the Waterford North Quays Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) and facilitate the expansion of the city to the north side of the River Suir. This allowed Waterford City and County Council (WCCC) to appoint BAM Ireland Ltd as the contractor for the main works contract, the most significant works package relating to the scheme to date, including a major new opening bridge across the river. The works will commence on site in Q1 2023, with a three to four-year construction period.
The works comprise:
- 1.3km of urban dual carriageway and local road upgrades, including new cycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the Ferrybank area, north of the SDZ site. Significant road junctions and bridges will also be delivered to provide the necessary connections to the SDZ across the Waterford to Rosslare Railway on its northern periphery
- a major multimodal, sustainable transport interchange hub (including a train station to replace the existing Plunkett station) located directly adjacent and central to the northern edge of the SDZ site
- a 207m long pedestrian and cycle bridge (with an opening section consisting of a double leaf bascule section) across the River Suir (Sustainable Transport Bridge), which accommodates a 25m navigable channel for river traffic. The double-leaf bascule bridge was designed in collaboration with movable bridge engineers Hardesty & Hanover. It will provide the vital link between the city centre, SDZ site and transport interchange hub and connect the Waterford and New Ross greenways
- the creation of a large public plaza on the south side of the river to act as the gateway to the new river bridge and the SDZ beyond from the existing city centre
- 1km of flood defences along the SDZ northern boundary, which will link in with a further 1.1km of new flood defences west of the SDZ development (subject to An Bord Pleanála approval) to future-proof both the new and the existing public infrastructure on the north side of Waterford
The works will dovetail with planned Irish Rail track upgrade works, which will integrate the main works contract infrastructure with the railway network, and eight advanced works contracts progressed by WCCC over the past four years. These enabling works packages were intended to reduce project risk and the level of traffic disruption in the city during these major regenerative infrastructure works.
Two significant advanced works contracts currently being progressed on site consist of:
- Rockface stabilisation works: Stabilisation of 400m of rock cutting along the Waterford to Rosslare Railway adjacent to the existing Plunkett railway station. The works are being undertaken by Cumnor Construction Ltd., and the planned completion date is Q1 2023. This will allow passenger trains to access the new train station planned at the SDZ site
- Ferrybank Pumping Station Works: Construction of a new foul and surface water pumping station and connecting drainage network and river outfall. The works are being undertaken by David Walsh Civil Engineering Ltd., and the planned completion date is Q1 2024
The Government decision to fund the project marks a significant milestone for the project team, who have been working on the planning, design and procurement phases since 2016. WCCC Chief Executive Michael Walsh and his team deserve great credit for their tireless work with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and numerous government departments to progress the project to this stage.