Peace Bridge safety barriers erected

Safety barriers have been erected on Derry’s new Peace Bridge, ahead of its grand opening next month.

The barriers, which are partly designed to prevent people from entering the water, are part of an overall safety plan for the new structure.

The safety of users was a key priority in the design of the bridge - with the designers in consultation with various safety organisations and bodies involved in suicide prevention. A spokesperson for Ilex, which is overseeing the construction of the EU-funded bridge, said that “three sets” of glass panels had been erected.

“Two of the sets are mainly to protect people from the elements at two seated areas on the bridge although there is also a safety aspect. The third set is at the Ebrington end where the bridge crosses over the railway line and this is mainly for safety reasons.”

Meanwhile, Ilex has confirmed that less of the Ebrington Parade Ground will be ready for the official opening of the bridge on June 25 “than originally hoped”. A “small section” of the parade ground - which is under refurbishment - will be ready in time for the opening ceremony to ensure that bridge users do not arrive on to a building site at the Waterside end of the £13.5m structure.

However, a spokesperson said: “It’s quite an impressive walkway, which runs to Ebrington’s Limavady Road gates.”

The spokesperson added that work on the parade ground is due to be completed by late Autumn.

A weekend of celebrations is being planned to coincide with the official opening of the Peace Bridge. It’s anticipated that a high profile figure from the EU Commission will be in Derry to open the structure, as its construction was funded by European Peace money.

Big ceremony

Ilex declined to comment on speculation about who will attend the big ceremony, but a spokesperson said: “It’ll be a fun weekend in the city with a fantastic array of acts and events organised from Friday to Sunday. A programme of events for the weekend will be launched at the upcoming Foyle Days festival.”

The new bridge was initially due to be opened by Christmas 2010 but problems with finding a solid foundation at the Foyle embankment led to a delay. The bridge was then due to be opened in March, although it was later decided to postpone the official opening to allow a section of Ebrington Parade Ground to be completed.