Mary Elmes, Design and Construction of an Urban Pedestrian Bridge Over the River Lee in Cork City Centre.

Authors: Marcos SANCHEZ, Simon ROBERTS, Robert RYAN
Companies: ARUP, Dublin, Ireland; Wilkinson Eyre, London, UK; ARUP, Cork, Ireland

Mary Elmes Bridge is a 66m single-span Pedestrian and Cyclist bridge that opened in Cork, Ireland, in July 2019.
In September 2016, Cork City Council launched a competition for a single span – no supports in the river
were allowed- pedestrian crossing over the River Lee between the historic bridges of St. Patrick’s (a stone
arch form 1860’s) and Brian Boru (a former rolling bascule from 1920). The competition was launched as
part of Cork City Council’s key objective to encourage greater sustainable travel in the form of walking and
cycling within the city Centre.
Constrained by heavily trafficked quay roads, designing a single-span 66m crossing was a real challenge
when considering that the flooding level for the 200 years return is 400mm higher than the existing
footpaths. The winning solution is a slender, steel shallow through beam with a slight arching effect. The
main span is fully integral with the abutments with the central steel box girder and variable width cantilevered
walkways joining at both landing points to stiff concrete piled foundations. The concept adopts a clever
strategy to integrate at-grade landings with existing footpath levels while making the structure compatible
with future city flood defences. Using the pedestrian walkway as a flange in the longitudinal direction
allows the structure to achieve significant slenderness.
This proposal establishes a connective dialogue with its surroundings and is compliant with challenging flooding
and visual requirements.