asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state the present position regarding the erection of the new bridge in Wexford.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Wexford Bridge.
asked the Minister for Local Government and Public Health if he will state (a) the number of persons (1) residing in the State, and (2) residing outside the State, who entered the design competition in connection with the erection of a new bridge in Wexford; (b) the names and place of residence of the winners of the competition; (c) the date on which the competition was held; (d) whether the prize money arising out of the competition has yet been paid; and (e) whether he has any observations to offer regarding the delay in making these payments.
I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 10 together.
The proposal to build a new bridge at Wexford involves an expenditure which at present is estimated at between £150,000 and £200,000. It will, therefore, be clear that the proposal is an important one affecting as it does the financial interests of the local rate-payers and also the State, which is expected to make a contribution from the Road Fund.
In this connection the question whether the bridge should be constructed as a fixed bridge or an open span is of great importance. Clause 5 of the instructions to competitors is as follows:—
"The county council desire an opening span but are prepared to consider the alternative of a fixed bridge with at least 20 feet clearance above mean high water of ordinary spring tides in one span of not less than 60 feet."
Clause 3 of the Schedule to these instructions states:—
"A passage not less than 60 feet wide shall be provided for river traffic in either—
(a) an opening span, or
(b) a fixed span allowing not less than 20 feet between soffit level and mean high water of ordinary spring tides which may be taken as 9.70 O.D."
These conditions were not submitted in the first instance for approval of my Department. Obviously an open span bridge would be desirable if such a bridge could be provided at a reasonable cost. Both the Department of Industry and Commerce and my own Department feel strongly that a proposal which might prevent the use of a good navigable waterway by vessels catering for the needs of possible future industrial centres along the river should not be accepted unless very strong reasons are produced in favour of a fixed bridge and against the erection of an opening bridge. I understand the winning designs are for fixed bridges.
As to (a), (1) and (2), in the question, I have no information.
(b) The winners of the prizes were:—
(1) W.J.L. O'Connell, Cork; (2) W. A. Fairhurst, Glasgow; (3) J. J. Roughan, Dublin.
(c) The instructions to competitors were issued in June, 1943, and the assessors' award is dated the 13th October, 1944.
(d) I understand the prize money has not yet been paid.
(e) I have been in communication for some time with the local authority regarding the possibility of obtaining designs on the basis of an open span bridge. On the 13th November last the county council was informed that they should be advised by their legal agent as to their position in relation to the assessors, the prize winners and the competition. I have no information to show that this course was followed by the county council but on the 12th March that body again requested approval to the payment of prizes and fees. In reply, dated 26th April last, the council were asked how many of the 43 designs submitted were for opening bridges and in what respects these designs were found unsuitable by the assessors. The reply which has now come to hand states that 12 designs were for opening bridges and that the designs were rejected in four cases on the grounds of unacceptable types or treatment of piers, in two cases on the grounds that the number of small spans provided were excessive and that there was an excessive reduction of waterway, and in six cases mainly on the grounds of defective foundations. It is proposed again to inform the county council that they should act in accordance with the advice of their legal adviser in the matter of paying prizes and fees.
As regards the inquiry as to the present position regarding the erection of the bridge I understand that last December a conference was held in Wexford between representatives of the Wexford County Council, the Wexford Corporation and the Wexford Harbour Commissioners regarding the necessity for or the desirability of a bridge with an opening span and that in January, 1946, the county council approved of a resolution that the Minister for Local Government and Public Health be requested to hold a local inquiry with regard to the question of providing an opening span in the proposed new bridge. The application of the council will be considered when provisions in the Local Government Bill regarding the construction of bridges become law.
Could the Minister say if the prizewinners have been notified that they are prizewinners?
I am not certain, but I did see the publication of their names in the newspapers, and I assume from that that they have been notified.