Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge wins international award

Outstanding structure of the year for river Barrow bridge, key part of New Ross bypass

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge is  named after the mother of former US president John F Kennedy whose ancestors hail from nearby Dunganstown. File photograph: The Irish Times

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge is named after the mother of former US president John F Kennedy whose ancestors hail from nearby Dunganstown. File photograph: The Irish Times

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The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge over the river Barrow which opened last year has won a prestigious international award for engineering excellence and design.

The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering said the bridge is “a landmark structure” that has pushed the boundaries for the span of a “concrete extrados bridge”. The association is a scientific and technical group with members in 100 countries, was founded in 1929 and has its seat in Zurich, Switzerland.

The bridge was awarded the Outstanding Structure award in the Bridge or Other Infrastructures category.

It was built as part of the N25 New Ross bypass project and is one of most remarkable bridges in Ireland, rising from the east and turning north, before making landfall on the west of the Barrow. Most bridges are built along straight lines. But this one contains the longest post-tensioned all-concrete spans in the world. While there are longer spans in bridges, they all take advantage of a lighter steel composite section in the central part of the main span.

The bridge is the central part of the N25 New Ross bypass, which aims to strengthen regional connectivity as well as local connections between the communities of Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford in the southeast.

At the point of the crossing, the river Barrow is 300m wide and is surrounded by a landscape of rolling hills.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland said the bridge had been designed to be sympathetic and complementary to its surroundings and environment, enhancing the quality of life in New Ross town which was previously beset by frequent traffic congestion.

Lateral towers

The structure was conceived during the planning stage as a three-tower bridge with a central tower higher than the lateral towers. Proportioned to the golden ratio in height and span distribution, with a truly shallow (less than 15 degrees) cable arrangement in a harp configuration, the bridge represents a formidable structural design and construction challenge.

The bridge is officially named after the mother of former US president John F Kennedy whose ancestors came from nearby Dunganstown. It was built by BAM-Dragados with the detailed design undertaken by Arup, in collaboration with Carlos Fernandez Casado. The overall bypass project comprised a 14km bypass including the bridge.