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Limerick City Reopens to Boaters After Dredging Works

11th June 2012
Limerick City Reopens to Boaters After Dredging Works

#shannon –  Waterways Ireland has successfully completed dredging maintenance in Limerick City around Sarsfield Lock and the Abbey River undertaken over the Winter & Spring of 2011/12 so the city is once again open to boating traffic.

This contract was challenging due to the requirement to execute the works during the winter, out of the boating season. The Abbey River experienced very high flows at this time of year as a result of operations at Ardnacrusha Power Station and part of works were undertaken in a tidal zone of the river. Meticulous planning by Waterways Ireland and the contractor was required to ensure the dredging was carried out safely and effectively in reduced daylight hours, under strict environmental guidelines with severely limited access and traffic restrictions within the city. The contract resulted in the removal of approximately 20,000 tonnes of sediment deposits from the navigation channel in the Abbey and Shannon Rivers.

The work programme was carefully planned approximately 18 months in advance and involved extensive consultation with National Parks and Wildlife Service, Shannon Foynes Port Company, Inland Fisheries Ireland & Limerick City Council (Planning, Roads, Environment and Waste sections) to minimise the impact of the essential maintenance works on the sensitive habitats that have become established within the Shannon estuary.

Licences to undertake the work were secured in October 2011 and continual monitoring ensured that the works were carried out in full compliance with current environmental legislation. In addition the consultations developed into regular communications during the progress of the contract and also involved the local rowing clubs and city councillors.

The contract was undertaken in three phases as a result of differing site requirements and conditions. The first phase from the Custom House Quay to Sarsfield Lock was undertaken in October 2011 and required the employment of a pontoon mounted excavator with barges. Barges transported the material to Sarsfield Lock where a temporary loading area was constructed for load out to lorry.

The second phase of the contract was undertaken in December and involved the removal of material from the Baals Bridge area of the navigation. Flow conditions in the river dictated the employment an innovative amphibious excavator. Access for this excavator was achieved through the Park Canal and the existing Lock, where it was able to operate directly in the river at low tide conditions. Removal of the material was via an agreed temporary loading area at Baals Bridge

The third phase of the contract, undertaken in February involved the removal of material from the Georges Quay area of the navigation. Work in this area was undertaken last as additional environmental studies and approval was required to protect the Lamprey Eel. Flow conditions in the river dictated a different removal method that employed a smaller pontoon-mounted excavator with an anchorage system. Removal of the material was via an agreed temporary loading area at Georges Quay, immediately adjacent to the Barrington Hospital, direct to lorry and disposal.

All dredged material removed from the Abbey River was transported to a licenced disposal facility in accordance with current disposal legislation and the Traffic Management Plan agreed with Limerick City Council, which was designed to minimise traffic disruption in the city centre.

It is anticipated that this maintenance work will greatly enhance the key asset that the navigation provides to Limerick City and help stimulate greater use of the marina by boats. The improved mooring facilities will also enable the boating enthusiast to access the extensive public amenities available in the city centre, including many restaurants, bars, shops and museums amongst other attractions.

Published in Inland Waterways Team

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