Construction of a €30 million bridge linking Dublin's south docks with the planned new "urban quarter" on the Poolbeg peninsula is to be fast-tracked by Dublin City Council.
The council has shifted its focus to the new bridge, which will connect the peninsula lands earmarked for up to 3,000 homes to the rest of the docklands, following the decision to defer construction of a €17 million pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Liffey.
That bridge was to run from the proposed Dart Underground station at the north docks to Forbes Street on the south side.
However, as reported in the Irish Times last week, the council has put the development on hold at the request of the National Transport Authority (NTA).
The NTA asked the council to suspend the project for 15 to 18 months to allow for a review of Dart Underground.
Last September the government said the development of the line would be shelved until after 2020.
Last January, the council was allocated €2.94 million in EU funding for the Liffey bridge.
This will now be transferred to the development of the Poolbeg bridge, which the council estimates will cost €25-€30 million to build with remaining money coming from a combination of council and NTA funds.
The new bridge will run from the end of Sir John Rogerson's Quay across the mouth of the river Dodder where it flows into the Liffey, and across to Thorncastle Street in Ringsend.
The council plans to have the bridge in place by 2020 and hopes, following the NTA review, to have the Liffey crossing in place around the same time.
While there is already a bridge to Ringsend inland on a route which runs to the city centre along Pearse Street, the new bridge would provide a direct link to the newly built residential and commercial docklands area.
It is also essential for the development of the peninsula, including the former Irish Glass Bottle site, assistant council chief executive Jim Keogan said.
“The Dodder bridge will unlock the potential of the lands designated for development in Poolbeg and forms part of the council’s commitment to ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place to provide access to the docklands area north and south of the river.”
The Government last May approved the creation of a strategic development zone (SDZ), on the old industrial peninsula lands at the city’s east end.
The SDZ is a fast-track planning scheme that allows the council to grant development permission that cannot be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, significantly cutting time projects are in the planning system.
Nama, which controls the vast Glass Bottle site, one of the largest vacant plots in the city at more than 10 hectares, has signalled it is eager to get development under way.
The peninsula lands will be used predominantly for housing, with about 30 per cent commercial and retail development.
Dublin City Council sought the SDZ designation for Poolbeg following the success of the Docklands SDZ, which covers the Grand Canal Dock area on the south side of the river and North Lotts area on the north side.
The new bridge will “consolidate the development that has, and is taking place in the docklands SDZ area,” Mr Keogan said, by giving the riverside sites better road connectivity, particularly in relation to public transport.
City councillors will this week be given an update on the development of the Poolbeg SDZ.
The council will be accepting preliminary submissions over the coming months and plans to have a draft scheme completed by this autumn.
It hopes to have the SDZ in place by next spring.