Build more bridges in Dublin’s docklands while also addressing housing needs

Council proposes to spend €12 million on a new bridge east of the Samuel Beckett Bridge

 

In any city with a river running through its centre, building bridges is one of the most significant things to do. Bridges bring people closer to where they might want to go. They change the pattern of movement in the city and can even shift its centre of gravity. Until the late 18th century, the most easterly bridge in Dublin was Essex (now Grattan) Bridge, on the alignment of Capel Street. The construction of Carlisle Bridge in 1791 (since replaced by O’Connell Bridge, which is twice its width) and the contemporaneous completion of the Custom House down river by James Gandon had the effect of moving the city centre eastward, just as the traders in Capel Street feared at the time.

Dublin City Council proposes to spend €12 million on a new bridge, to cater for cyclists and pedestrians, east of the show-stopping Samuel Beckett Bridge. Councillor Chris Andrews (Sinn Féin, formerly Fianna Fáil), has called for the money to be invested in housing instead. “It doesn’t seem logical to me to build a new bridge over the Liffey in an area which is already reasonably well catered for when over 3,500 adults and children, including 550 families, are now homeless in Dublin,” he said. “Figures provided by the Department of the Environment show that approximately 80 new social housing units could be constructed or almost 775 units refurbished for €12 million.”

However, it is not an either/or situation. There is no doubt about the sheer scale of the housing crisis, which is primarily a matter for the Government to address by releasing sufficient funds to alleviate homelessness. But the fact is that developers in the docklands area are being levied for substantial contributions towards the provision of infrastructure, including new bridges. There is also an obvious need to build more bridges along this stretch of the Liffey, given that there are only two between the Matt Talbot and East Link bridges, compared to 10 between Heuston and the Custom House. So let’s build more bridges in docklands while also addressing the housing needs of Dubliners.

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