Construction on the realignment of Garrycastle Bridge is expected to start early next year after the council received formal approval for the project this week.
The National Roads Authority (NRA ) gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for the €6.1 million project, which is being referred to as “the missing link” in the town’s traffic management plan.
The contract for the work has been awarded to Jons Civil Engineering Ltd, the company behind the construction of the Joe Dolan Bridge in Mullingar. Work is to start within three months, and the project is expected to take 12 months to complete.
The R916 Garrycastle Bridge scheme is expected to cost in the region of €6.15m, including an estimated construction cost of €3m, and €3.15m for land acquisition, consultant fees, site investigation, and archaeological assessment. The NRA allocated €700,000 to the project in March this year, while the council has also allocated money over the past number of years.
Director of services Hugh O’Reilly said the plans for the construction of a new bridge at Garrycastle have been in the pipeline for almost 10 years.
“This is the guts of 10 years in the offing. We finalised the designs in 2006-7 and went through the planning process and the CPO process to purchase lands. Six months ago the contract documents were prepared, it went out to tender, and we selected a contractor, Jons Civil Enginerering,” he explained.
“The next stage is to work out the traffic management plan and the details of the construction programme, which will take place over 12 months and involves the construction of a new bridge over the railway line, a roundabout to connect with Retreat Road, and sections of road to link up with the road at Garrycastle Stores.
“This is the missing link in the traffic management plan for the town. The approach roads have been improved, and this is the last link.”
Mr O’Reilly said he is confident that traffic disruption during construction can be kept to a minimum.
“The area has quite a lot of traffic and would be quite sensitive to any disruption. However, the majority of the project will take place offline - the building of the bridge will be off-site, and then there will be a couple of weeks closure while we tie the bridge back in with the roads. We would hope there will be minimal traffic disruption during this time,” he added.
The news was welcomed by councillors at Tuesday’s Athlone Area meeting, who paid tribute to the council, landowners for their cooperation, and Deputy Nicky McFadden, whom Cllr Cooney said had been putting pressure on Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar regarding the project.