County council puzzled by failure of pedestrian bridge that was certified to last a century but had to be removed after just over twenty years

A county council said they are still trying to figure out why a bridge built to last a century failed after little more than twenty years and had to be quickly removed.

The Millennium Bridge in the historic castle town of Trim, Co Meath had to be shut this summer after an inspection found it was at immediate risk of collapse.

The footbridge over the River Boyne had only been opened in 2001 at a cost of €111,000 with tender documents specifying a structure intended to last for one hundred years.

However, a civil engineering consultant ordered it be closed immediately this summer due to what it said was a “danger of total failure”.

The emergency removal of the bridge ended up costing the taxpayer another €10,000 with a temporary ‘Bailey Bridge’ installed with the assistance of the Defence Forces.

Meath County Council said that design works for a new bridge are currently underway and they cannot say how much a permanent replacement will cost.

Councillors have been told it could be between €500,000 and €600,000 with a cost benefit analysis looking at the best option for replacing it.

A copy of an inspection report, released under FOI, explained how the bridge had scored a maximum five in a safety rating system indicating “ultimate damage”.

It described how key parts of the structure’s support system were rotten and that “similar rotting” was almost certain in joints within the bridge.

The report by civil engineers Mark Murphy Consultancy said: “The bridge is no longer fit for purpose.”

It said the footbridge should be closed immediately to all pedestrian traffic and inquiries made to see if similar issues had occurred with structures built from the same type of timber.