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Worry about Green Party ‘wobbly’ on crucial Clare road

AN EAST Clare councillor described himself as “a fraction nervous” over the Green transport minister’s commitment to progressing the Killaloe Bypass.
After receiving a detailed update on the multimillion euro project at the May meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District, Councillor Pat Burke expressed the hope that Minister Eamon Ryan would not have “a wobbly”.
The Fine Gael member noted the Council hopes to proceed to tender, subject to ministerial approval, around mid-June.
The official response described that stage in the project as a “milestone” in a time-frame that could see major works get underway early next year, with a possible completion date of 2025.
Commenting on a written update from Seán Lenihan, Senior Engineer at the Council’s Projects Management Office (PMO), Councillor Burke commended the works.
“Excellent progress has been made,” he remarked. “I am a fraction nervous about a section of the response which says that ‘all going well’ the minister will give approval for tendering.
“I would hope he wouldn’t hit a wobbly as he has on other major infrastructural projects.”
Councillor Burke also expressed the view that the progress to-date with the bypass project – which includes a new Shannon crossing and upgrades to the R494 to Birdhill – was down to previous governments.
“I have been critical of the Green Party influence on government with the lack of funding for [safety] works at Henchy’s Cross and note that the progress achieved so far on the Killaloe Bypass has been achieved under previous governments,” he said.
“I’ve taken every opportunity with Leo Varadkar to copper-fasten funding and we still need the minister’s final sign-off. Please God, he won’t think we should all be walking and cycling into Killaloe. This is a vital piece of infrastructure for East Clare.
“My compliments go to Seán and his team and let’s hope the minister will sign off. I am confident he will despite my criticisms of the Greens. Millions for cycling and walking are all very fine, but we need funds for the likes of Henchy’s Cross.”
Councillor Tony O’Brien also welcomed Mr Lenihan’s update.
“I don’t share Pat’s concerns,” the Fianna Fáil member said. “It is incumbent on us all to maintain pressure on our political masters and to make sure that Eamon Ryan isn’t allowed to take if off the agenda. The bypass will really open up East Clare for development and tourism.”
Outlining the time-frame for the long-awaited works, Mr Lenihan’s response to Councillor Burke said: “Excellent progress has been made in this project in recent months with the significant bundle of advance works due to be completed by our contractors, Coir Infrastructure in the coming weeks.
“The main archaeological works have been completed and all areas have been backfilled. Following the site clearance works, additional areas were identified for further investigation in order to de-risk the main contract works. Archaeology investigations were required on the canal island also.
“The draft tender suite of documents has been finalised and forwarded to the Department of Transport for their review. All going well, we would expect to get the Ministers approval to proceed to tender around mid June.
“Meeting this milestone will position us nicely to run the tender competition, assess the submitted bids from the six shortlisted contractors, select a preferred bidder and subject to Ministerial approval, award the contract by year end.
“It would then be expected that following mobilisation, construction of the main scheme works would commence on site in the spring of next year 2022.
“Due to the seasonal constraints associated with in-river works, the construction period is expected to take between 30 and 36 months to complete.
“In parallel to the works outlined above, we are progressing with the remaining Landowner Agreements, mostly by direct negotiation with a very small few choosing to go the arbitration route. Following the easing of restrictions, these are due to recommence in mid June and July.
“We will keep the members informed of developments and are happy to discuss/clarify any particular queries.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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