IN the beginning there was scepticism about the need for the Peace Bridge.
The concept had it’s fans and it’s detractors, but hundreds of thousands of people have used the bridge and it has now embedded itself as a vital artery between the two sides of the River Foyle.
Now it is fimly embedded as Londonderry’s new public realm space, and it will be shown off to great effect in the coming 10 days as the Clipper Homecoming Festival plays out on the River Foyle.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the official opening of the iconic structure, which took place on Monday, June 25, here are 20 facts about the Peace Bridge which Sentinal readers might not be familiar with.
l The Peace Bridge has a 150mm gap at each end to allow for expansion of the steel in hot weather;
l The Peace Bridge is designed to withstand impact from vessels up to approximately 30 tonnes moving at up to 5 knots;
l 4.5 kilometres of electric cable were laid on the bridge- enough to go around the City Walls three times;
l The bridge weighs a total of 1,000 tonnes and the heaviest section weighs 120 tonnes;
l The 1,000 tonnes of steel used in the construction of the Peace Bridge is the equivalent of 143 double decker buses;
l The Peace Bridge is the only self-anchored suspension bridge in these islands. A self-anchored suspension bridge has main cables attached to the ends of the deck, rather than to the ground at either side;
l The design life of the bridge is 120 years;
l Due to the complex ‘S’ shape of the bridge deck each section had to be constructed and connected to the next section in sequence at the factory in Newport, Wales, to ensure that when it arrived in the city they would all fit together perfectly on site;
l Sections of the deck were lifted into place by a 500 tonne crane on a floating barge called the Forth Atlas, which had travelled from eastern Scotland to do the job;
l The construction of the Peace Bridge was a European effort, the glass panels came from Portugal, the steel from Newport in Wales, the CCTV from Dublin and the construction was led by Graham Construction from Dromore;
l The bridge rises 7.5m along its length from the city side to the Waterside;
l Graham also built the Foyle Bridge which was completed in 1984;
l 40 - 50 people were employed at the peak of construction;
l 12 people were employed as a result of social clauses written into the construction contract and five of those people have remained employed with Graham Construction
l As well as using specially designed LEDs to reduce light pollution, improve visibility and reduce energy consumption, an 80m section of under deck lights on the Peace Bridge, from the star fort walls to the railway line, can be switched off to accommodate foraging bats (during May to September);
l In 2010 piling in the river was suspended to respect the salmon season (early April to end of July);
l The Peace Bridge has won five awards since it was opened including ‘Overall Planning Award’ and ‘Place Making Award’ (Irish Planning Institute, Dublin), ‘Achieving Excellence Partnering Award’ (Construction Employers Federation), ‘Steelwork Business Information Modelling Award’ (Tekla Global), Waterways Trust Renaissance Award and ‘International Bridge Conference Award’;
l As a result of winning the Overall Planning Award (IPI), the Peace Bridge has been nominated to represent the island of Ireland at the 9th European Urban and Regional Planning Achievement Awards, to be held in Brussels in autumn 2012;
l A 1:80 scale model of the bridge was produced from a 3D model to visualise the completed structure, which currently resides in the reception area of the North West Regional College;
l Maurice Harron, who designed the hands across the divide sculpture which inspired the bridge design, was commissioned to produce a 30cm scale model maquette which was presented to Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy when he opened the bridge on June 25, 2011. The maquette is still prominently placed on Mr Hahn’s desk in Brussels.