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Londonderry Peace Bridge opens

The new £14.7M Peace Bridge at Ebrington Waterfront, Londonderry has been completed by main contractors Graham Construction, global designers Aecom and leading architects Wilkinson Eyre.

The fixed-span foot/cycle bridge unites the communities on the east and west banks of the River Foyle and is the first bridge of its type to be built in the UK.  

Ilex, the urban regeneration company established to promote the regeneration of the area, held an international design competition in 2009 to deliver a new foot/cycle bridge which would, in time, become a defining landmark for Derry. 

The project team were charged with delivering an iconic structure and called on all their skills in conceptual design, detailed design and the construction.

Aecom was responsible for the feasibility studies, concept design, detailed construction design, environmental impact assessment, geotechnical design, wind tunnel and ship impact studies and erection engineering. 

Wilkinson Eyre worked closely with Aecom to develop feasibility designs for the crossing. With Graham Construction, they delivered the bridge architecture, the alignment design, key documentation for planning approval, design of all bespoke furniture for the bridge, bridge visualisations and the lighting design.

Main contractor GRAHAM started work on the showpiece structure in January 2010 as part of the construction team which also included steel fabricators Rowecord, who were responsible for the 1,000 tonnes of steel used in the construction of the Peace Bridge.  

The bridge reaches a height of 36m and is 312m long and varies in width from 3.5m to 4.5m at different points. It has been anchored by 30 steel piles, each 24m long and driven into the riverbed 10m to 11m deep

The Peace Bridge is a totally unique design intended to symbolise a ‘structural handshake’ between the two communities on the east and west of the River Foyle. It comprises a curved self-anchored suspension bridge, with two inclined pylons dividing the structure into three continuous spans of 63.4, 96.2 and 63.4m over the river with two approach spans of 37m to cross the Derry to Castle Rock railway line and a proposed access road. 

The innovative design of this bridge exploits the combination of the reverse curvature of the deck and the inclined towers and suspension cables and hangers to provide balancing radial forces to achieve static and dynamic stability. The project team had to overcome challenging ground conditions and environmental constraints including the foundation of the main piers within a deep and fast flowing tidal river.

Leo Martin, Operations Director at GRAHAM Construction said: “GRAHAM is tremendously proud to have led the delivery of this iconic structure.

“This has been a challenging and immensely interesting project to be involved in and it is a testament to the skills of the entire construction team that it has been completed to such a high standard.

“We are confident the Peace Bridge will be warmly welcomed by the people of Derry-Londonderry and will become one of the most high profile structures in Northern Ireland.”

Kandiah Kuhendran, Technical Director at AECOM, added: “AECOM’s involvement with the Peace Bridge started from early feasibility studies in 2007 through to its detailed design as a member of the international award winning project team.

“Its conception was driven by our urge to create an iconic structure for Derry-Londonderry with a unique structural system that delivers functionality as well as a sense of tranquillity.

“To have delivered such a complex structure within an agreed economic solution and realistic buildability constraints is hugely satisfying and has been achieved through working in true collaboration with the project team”.

James Marks, Associate at Wilkinson Eyre Architects was directly involved in the design of the crossing from the initial feasibility stages.

He said: “We are immensely proud of the achievements of the construction and design team in delivering this important structure.

“The bridge resolves a complex range of cultural, historical and physical conditions that are unique to this location.

“The different disciplines have worked together to deliver a memorable structure that is distinctive and highly conspicuous within the historic city. The bridge provides a visual landmark and a clear statement of political and economic optimism.”

The third bridge across the River Foyle, the Peace Bridge has been funded by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The programme’s theme of creating shared public space aims to support large scale infrastructure developments which aim to tackle problems of separated communities by creating genuine new shared space or transforming contested space.

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