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A Garda directs traffic on the busy junction during a protest by locals at Blake's Corner, Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

Council to ‘engage immediately’ on Blake’s Corner project

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CLARE County Council is set to engage immediately with affected landowners as it bids to progress a new relief road in Ennistymon that will alleviate traffic problems in the town.

Following approval by An Bord Pleanála for the Council’s N67/N85 Inner Relief Road Ennistymon (Blake’s Corner) Compulsory Purchase Order 2020, the local authority is commencing plans to procure a contractor for the works at the earliest juncture.

Should the engagement process go smoothly with attendant approvals from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, work could begin on the project early in 2024.

Senior Engineer with Clare County Council, Seán Lenihan, added: “Following the decision by An Bord Pleanála, we will now arrange to complete the detailed design and tender documentation required to procure a contractor for the works at the earliest juncture.

“We will also commence the engagement process with affected land and property owners in terms of agreeing compensation packages and other associated arrangements required.”

Clare County Council published the CPO in June 2020 and an Oral Hearing on same was held in June 2021.

Welcoming the news, Council CEO Pat Dowling said: “The decision by An Bord Pleanála to confirm the CPO is very positive news for Ennistymon and North Clare in general.

“Traffic congestion in Ennistymon has been of major concern for some time. In addressing this issue the scheme has the potential to deliver significant and lasting benefits for residents, businesses and visitors in the area. I welcome this decision, which will now allow the project to move forward.”

The proposed N67/N85 Inner Relief Road Ennistymon (Blake’s Corner) involves the construction of a new bridge approximately 80m upstream of the existing Michael Conway Bridge.

The existing bridge, a protected 7-arch masonry bridge, will be pedestrianised and a plaza will be constructed at the western end. The scheme will include other enhancements to the area, including footpath improvements and enhanced crossing arrangements, landscaping, lighting and services enhancements, and other ancillary elements.

The scheme will improve the capacity of the road network and will improve road safety, while conserving and complementing the historic fabric of the town.

The scheme has been developed to address the serious traffic congestion issues through Ennistymon town. A review of previous studies of the junction at Blake’s Corner, a traffic modelling assessment of the improvement options and a design of an improvement scheme have all been carried out to find the most appropriate solution to deal with the longstanding traffic problems in Ennistymon.

Welcoming An Bord Pleanála’s decision, Councillor Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said, “I look forward to progress on this important project, which will enhance and open up North Clare to more visitors, and will make the experience of visiting the area more enjoyable.”

Councillor Shane Talty, Cathaoirleach of the West Clare Municipal District, said: “The decision by An Bord Pleanála is an important milestone on the journey towards alleviating the longstanding traffic issues within Ennistymon. I would hope the scheme for the new relief road can now progress in as timely a manner as possible.”

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