'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage’ ’is a work in progress, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and due to be completed in the autumn of 2008. The following tale represents research I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.
Connection: East Wall Road to York Road.
Commissioner: National Toll Roads Company.
Designer: McCarthy & Partners Consultants Ltd (now part of Atkins).
Builder: Messrs Irishenco Ltd.
Mechanical Design: Dorman Long Bridge & Engineering Company.
Opened: 21st October 1984.
Mankind has been subject to tolls since at least the 7th century BC when the regime of the modern-minded Assyrian king Ashurbanipal charged people a fee for using the Susa-Babylon highway. Although they existed in Ireland in medieval times, the concept had long since vanished from society when, in 1976, entrepreneurial Dublin businessman and Roadstone Quarries founder Tom Roche approached the Port Authority with his proposal for a new bridge. It would run across the Liffey mouth at the boundaries of the developing modern deep sea berth area and the older declining cargo area. This would not only facilitate access to the port area but also provide an eastern bypass of the city centre. The Ports Authority gave the go ahead on condition that the bridge had an opening span to allow ships access to the river quays. The local authority then gave its permission for a connection into the public road network. Located 1.7km east of the Talbot Memorial Bridge, the East Link Toll Bridge is presently the most easterly of the River Liffey crossings. It provides a link from the East Wall Road to near the end of Thorncastle Street in Ringsend for both pedestrians and vehicles. The width of the river here is 210m (690 ft). The bridge comprises four fixed concrete spans of 26 m (85 ft) each, and a steel opening span of 45 m (148 ft). Under normal conditions, the deck can be raised in under one minute; the average vessel takes three and a half minutes to complete passage through. A new Southern Approach Road of 1150 m (3773 ft) was also built on reclaimed land to connect the bridge with the South Link Road. Part of the South Wall lost during this latter taking included two landings known as Cromwell’s Steps where the Great Protector is said to have landed in 1649. By February 1985 a million vehicles had used the new toll bridge, and the predicted usage of 11000 vehicles per day had been reached. The success of this bridge prompted the development of the West Link toll bridge some years later. During the Dublin taxi strike of 1992, over 25,000 vehicles crossed the bridge in one day. One wonders whether that record has been beaten since and what the implications of the Port Tunnel have been.