Motorists are bracing themselves for traffic disruption on one of Ennis’ busiest routes from this Saturday with the start of a week-long 24-hour road closure.
Senior engineer with Clare County Council Tom Tiernan has described the upcoming closure on the Tulla Road to facilitate works by Irish Water as “probably one of the most punishing elements” of the county capital’s watermain rehabilitation project.
However, he has insisted that the full closure of the road was the best possible option for both residents and those behind the project, which involves the replacement of leaking pipes.
Contractor Ward & Burke Construction Ltd are carrying out the works, which will see the road closed from the roundabout on the Lifford Road to the east side of the Tulla Road Bridge on the Tulla Road. The road closure will be in place from this Saturday until Sunday, November 1 inclusive and diversions are in place.
Speaking ahead of the closure, he acknowledged that residents of the Tulla Road have already been enduring weeks of roadworks as part of the rehabilitation project prior to this full road closure.
“I know it’s inconvenient and I know it’s difficult. In fairness to them, they have had to cope with the previous stages of the same work, which has been going on, on the Tulla Road for the past eight weeks. Their patience is appreciated definitely. We regret that we have to get caught up in situations like this but unfortunately the work is necessary and there is no other practical way to do it. We have considered all the degrees of pain that come with it and regardless of which way you approach it, the approach that is being taken is the least painful of all.”
According to Mr Tiernan, there is “significant leakage” in the mains and the situation has been “crying out for rectification for quite some time”.
“This work is important from the point of view that rehabilitating mains that need it and those that have a high leakage percentage at the moment, what it does is reduce the amount of water coming out in leaks and makes it available to facilitate current demands and future development”
Among those who have objected to the planned 24-hour closure is Tulla Road resident and councillor Johnny Flynn. He stated that while he is in favour of replacing leaking pipes, he suggested that the work could be done at night or that the underpass of the railway bridge could be used to allow traffic flow.
Mr Tiernan said these points have been considered in preparing for the road closure.
“Really, the practicalities and the difficulties that that would create would not be sustainable. To confine activity to overnight would cause an awful lot of nuisance and upheaval for people trying to sleep at night. The nature of the work involves rock-breaking and it’s the kind of noise that carries hugely at night. Several hundred houses would be affected and it would be inappropriate and unfair to impose that on any community.
“In relation to the underpass, if you facilitate traffic in that general area, particularly when the work is close to the bridge, that would cause all kinds of conflicts from a health and safety point of view. There would be a massive knock-on of negative effects, traffic jams and back-ups would be very, very significant. Even if you were to allow traffic in a one-way system, that traffic would have to stop to allow plant manoeuvre. It is too restrictive to allow continuous flow of traffic and in those circumstances what you end up with is massive traffic back-ups. It would lead to huge pandemonium and it would slow down the job.”
He insisted, “This is the least pain overall and it’s the safest approach”. He added that an arrangement has been made to facilitate emergency services during the works and pointed out that the midterm break for schools was chosen to minimise disruption for motorists.
Irish Water, in conjunction with Clare County Council, signed a contract with Ward & Burke Construction for the replacement of approximately 17 km of water mains that are in poor condition in Ennis town and surrounding areas. The project is part of the Clare Water Conservation Water Main Rehabilitation Strategy.
By Jessica Quinn