Rosie Hackett Bridge is the newest addition to the family of bridges crossing the River Liffey. Construction began in February 2012 and the bridge opened on the 20th of May 2014. Named after the trade union activist, who was involved in the 1913 Lockout, and later the 1916 Rising, it is the only bridge in the city centre named after a woman.
A low, single span, concrete structure, it is simple and sensitive in design - not wanting to compete with its classically elegant upstream neighbour, O’Connell Bridge, or to intrude upon the surrounding historic quayside. That sensitivity and simplicity perfectly complements its purpose - it is a public transport priority bridge, its 26 metre width generously accommodating dedicated bus and taxi lanes, a cycle track for southbound traffic, open spaces for foot passengers and a LUAS light rail corridor for future use.
Though crossing the river at a skew, viewed from its thresholds Rosie Hackett Bridge is a fluent, continuation of the connecting streets - Marlborough Street on the north side and Hawkins Street on the south. The wonderful river view of Dublin is framed by the portal like presence of tall poles at either end, most especially at night when light projects down onto the deck. These poles will also support the necessary cables for the Luas.
The bridge’s wide, open spaces were eclectically and cleverly designed by Seán Harrington Architects: stainless steel strips, inlaid with the granite paving, run neatly towards the river, then curve to form the bridge balustrades and finally spread into a handrail. The busy pedestrian moves fluently and efficiently from one zone to another across its 47 metres. Those who wish to linger and admire the riverscape can do so while resting on the seating formed from the concrete up-stands, which also separate walkers from road traffic. City hardy greenery softens and brightens the seating areas and at night lighting, integrated into the seating, balustrades and handrail, sets a very contemporary scene.
Unobtrusive as the Rosie Hackett Bridge is on the riverscape, it is very much a bridge of change. Pedestrians will continue to migrate from O’Connell Bridge (the busiest walking route in the country) and the areas surrounding Marlborough and Hawkins Streets will, as footfall increases, regenerate through greater economic activity. Dublin will boast yet another facet of contemporary city life when, in time to come, the first light rail tram crosses the river. For Dubliners, the real story of this bridge was in its name. For the first time ever suggestions were actively sought from individuals and groups and were finally filtered down by Dublin City Council to the very resonant Rosie Hackett Bridge.