MEMBERS of the public have had their say on how they would like the new Finaghy bridge to look.

A drop-in community engagement event was held in the Devenish on Tuesday where designs were on display and representatives from global engineering firm AECOM were on hand to discuss any structural concerns with local residents.

Earlier this year the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) allocated £15k for the purpose of having fresh design options drawn up for this controversial bridge.

The funds are being managed by Belfast City Council who have appointed a global engineering firm AECOM to undertake a design options report, consult with the local community and make recommendations for a specific design for Finaghy Bridge.

Part of AECOM’s remit was to meet with the DfI and Translink to see what they will accept in terms of changes to the bridge. The Department for Infrastructure and Translink are willing to have substantial visual changes made – providing the bridge remains absolutely safe.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News Councillor Geraldine McAteer said: “I have been delighted with the turn out today at this event. We wanted to ensure that the public had their say and had a hand in choosing the design and layout of the bridge. It has been a very positive and worthwhile event.

“I met with AECOM in June and they’ve identified the key engineering components of what will be required to ensure continued safety on a revamped bridge and what can be stripped away.

“What it boils down to is that the core safety components can be presented in either a fairly traditional style or in a very contemporary style. These options could potentially involve a lowering of the parapets, treatments to the resulting walls so that they cannot be climbed, significant curvatures of the crib stones along the footpath of the bridge, the introduction of a handrail along the pedestrian walkway across the bridge, to provide strong crash barriers and protection to pedestrians as well as aesthetic lighting design across the bridge and pedestrian walkway.”

Cllr McAteer added: “I believe we have made real progress and it was absolutely vital that the community had their opportunity to have their say on the bridge designs. Let’s face it, local people have lived with this monstrosity for a long time so it’s important that any new design is something that people can positively relate to”.