Peace Bridge almost complete

Derry's Peace Bridge. (1504PG43)
Derry's Peace Bridge. (1504PG43)

The countdown is on to the big opening of Derry’s iconic foot and cycle bridge.

At an estimated cost of £13.5m in European Peace money, the new structure is due to be officially opened on June 25.

And the gleaming new crossing is all but complete. Indeed, over the next couple of weeks employees of Graham Construction will be adding the finishing touches to the new bridge.

Nuala Griffiths, of Graham Construction - the firm which built the Foyle Bridge in the early eighties - said this week that a few more weeks will see the end of work on the structure.

“The surface has to be cleaned and painted and the temporary supports and rusty pylons have all been taken away. The hand rails are all in place now and the electricians are working at the lights which will be tested soon.”

Mo Durkan of Ilex, which is overseeing the construction of the bridge, said the official opening of the structure will involve a “full weekend programme of events” on Saturday and Sunday June 25 and 26.

The bridge was initially due to be opened by Christmas 2010 but problems with finding a solid foundation for the structure at the Foyle embankment led to a delay.

The bridge was then due to be opened this month, although it was later decided to postpone the official opening until June when the first section of the refurbishment at Ebrington parade ground - the bridge’s Waterside landing point - is to be completed.

Inclement weather also caused difficulties for construction staff working on the bridge over the freezing Christmas period.

The £6m development of Derry’s historic Ebrington Barracks parade ground is well underway with the first stage due for completion shortly. Ilex is billing the finished parade ground as a “destination space” or a range of culture and leisure activities.