CONSTRUCTION will begin on Cork city's newest bridge in early 2018.
The head of Cork City Council's roads directorate confirmed that the procurement process for the Harley St foot and cycle bridge will be completed in a matter of weeks, with construction following thereafter.
The €3.5 million bridge will cross the north channel of the River Lee from Merchant's Quay to the rear of the Metropole Hotel on Patrick's Quay, enhancing pedestrian and cyclist access in the area.
It will be the city's 30th bridge and the first new one since 2004.
ARUP Consulting Engineers and Wilkinson Eyre Architects were chosen to design and develop the bridge.
The winning design is described as a 'low lying shallow arched bridge', aiming to 'fit sympathetically with the surrounding quays, buildings and urban realm with minimal intrusion on the river view or river channel.'
The public consultation part of the process concluded in recent weeks, with thirteen submissions made by businesses and private individuals with regard to the structure and design of the bridge.
Meitheal Mara raised concerns about the impact that the new bridge would have on boats navigating the river, while there were also calls to segregate the pedestrian and cycling elements of the bridge to avoid collisions.
One submission also called for the development of a 'musical water feature' which would act as a tourist attraction, similar to those in several other European cities.
The bridge is 50% funded by the Southern & Eastern Regional Assembly (SERA), with the remaining 50% contributed by the National Transport Authority.
Meanwhile, elected members of Cork City Council are calling for the naming process for the new bridge to begin as soon as possible.
There is a growing sentiment among some councillors that the bridge should be named after a woman, with just one other city centre bridge named after a female: Nano Nagle Bridge.
Among the suggestions for the new bridge are Mother Jones, Sonia O'Sullivan and many of Cork's female GAA stars.
Fianna Fáil councillor John Sheehan called on the city officials to favour a female when it comes to settling on the name.
Councillors will discuss the matter over the coming weeks, with the process expected to come before the Corporate Policy Group before reverting back to the full council for a final decision.