Derry’s Peace Bridge has finally been cleared for adoption by the government - five years after it opened.
The adoption brings to an end the threat of the European Union demanding the return of money used to construct it, as adoption was a key condition for the funding being granted.
The delay in the government taking on responsibility related to concerns over movement of the bridge, with particular issues over its use during large scale events.
The Peace Bridge was opened in June 2011 and was constructed with funding from the European Union’s PEACE III programme (Shared Space Initiative). The £14.5m Peace Bridge has become an iconic symbol of Derry’s post-Troubles evolution.
It is understood all outstanding concerns have now been addressed.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesman this week told the ‘Journal’: “The adoption of the Peace Bridge by the Department for Infrastructure was completed on 1 July, 2016.”
In January this year, the Journal revealed that the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers had last year expressed concerns that the EU might “clawback” funding for Derry’s third bridge because of issues preventing its adoption.
Speaking about these outstanding matters in January 2016, a spokesperson for the then Department for Regional Development/Transport NI had said: “The main issue relates to the management of crowds during public events and associated potential for undesirable bridge deck movement.”
Also back in January, a spokesman for the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) in Northern Ireland had confirmed that “final adoption of the bridge is a condition of the project’s contract award”.
The Peace Bridge has been hailed as a major success which has helped transform the landscape of Derry and improve connectivity for local people.
It was designed to physically and symbolically unite both sides of the River Foyle in a structural, fluidic ‘handshake across the Foyle’.
The Peace Bridge measures 235 metres bank to bank and 312 metres in total.