Beleaguered motorists in Dublin will be hoping for a noticeable improvement in traffic, with the opening of a new €60m bridge.
The landmark 'harp'-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge has been officially opened ahead of schedule by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Emer Costello.
It is expected the alternative route across the city will mean less traffic congestion on an already clogged-up O'Connell Street and other central zones.
The new structure arrived in Dublin in May, having travelled from Rotterdam on a 90-metre barge. It has four traffic lanes, cycle tracks and footpaths and has the capacity to be used by bus and light rail services in the future.
Chair of the council's transport committee, Andrew Montague, said he believes the bridge will ease congestion. "Traffic will be able to divert away from the city centre core. People who want to get to the other side of town will not have to go through that (core) area," he said.
He added that the big problem was that people crossing the city were using the "spine" of O'Connell Street and College Green, even though they did not want to stop in the centre. "We pushed ahead with it to get it open before Christmas."
Designed by world-famous Spanish architect and engineer, Dr Santiago Calatrava, the bridge took seven days to travel from Rotterdam. The cable-stayed bridge is designed to be a landmark feature of the city, evoking the image of a harp.
Some €10m of the €60m cost of the project was provided by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA). Paul Maloney, chief executive of the DDDA, said - "With a growing number of people living, working and visiting Docklands, it is great to see another part of the transport facilities nearing completion.
"Once opened, this landmark bridge will provide an important link between the north and south quays and will facilitate easier access to the National Convention Centre and the O2."
The crossing will join Sir John Rogerson's Quay on the south side of the River Liffey with Guild Street and North Wall Quay on the north side of the river.