Foxford based Councillor Neil Cruise has stated that “confirmation of the appointment of a contractor and commencement of works at Cloongullane Bridge is imminent”.
Mr Paul Hyland, acting Head of Roads in Mayo County Council, gave an update on the project at a recent meeting of Mayo County Council's Roads Strategic Policy Committee.
He said that Cloongullane Bridge has had a long and colourful history. It is part of the N26 scheme extending from Mount Falcon to Swinford, N5, extending from the Bohola to Ballyvary realignment and new N58 road from O’Hara’s bakery to Ballyvary, that was refused Planning Permission by An Bord Pleanála (ABP ) in February 2010.
In a statement, Cllr Cruise said that: "A key part of ABP’s recommendation on refusal of the scheme submitted in 2010, was that any subsequent submission for this roads' bundle, should only include one new river crossing within the River Moy SAC.
"Consequently,' in 2015, the councillors in Ballina Municipal District, having given consideration to ABP’s judgement and taking the best advice from the staff of Mayo’s Roads' Design Office, agreed to take the Cloongullane Bridge project out of this roads' bundle and concentrate on replacing this vital piece of infrastructure.
"Therefore, it was decided to prioritise the replacement of this Bridge, one of the most dangerous parts of the National Roads' network, on safety grounds. This decision was ratified by Mayo County Council.
"Mayo County Council's Road Design office has been working diligently with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII ), the Department of Transport and various consultants from road design to environmental, in consultation with ABP and along with elected representatives to advance this project over the last five years.
"There were many delays caused by environmental concerns in relation to alluvial woodlands and freshwater pearl mussels. The scheme has been granted permission by ABP.
"The CPO for the scheme is virtually completed and the project was put out to tender earlier this year. A contractor has been chosen and confirmation of their appointment and subsequent commencement of works on the project is now imminent from TII.
"From a standing start in 2011, this project is now on the cusp of realisation. Various sums from €50,000 in 2012, to €800,000 in a subsequent year to cover design and environmental reports, to an allocation of €2,500,000 for 2020 to cover detailed design & CPO, have been allocated to this project.
"This was due to the tenacity of my colleagues including former Senator Michelle Mulherin, Michael Ring TD and Alan Dillon TD, working with local councillors in the Ballina Municipal District up to May 2019 and in the Claremorris / Swinford District since the local elections back in May 2019.
"As a councillor in the Claremorris/Swinford Municipal District, I have worked diligently and successfully to platform and realise the local road improvements that are now taking place on the N26.
"These very significant works are taking place on the Foxford side near the junction of the N26 at Renbrack as far as the bad bends before Cloongullane Bridge along with the stretch after the bends leaving Cloongullane Bridge as far as Swinford Town.
"The imminent confirmation of the appointment of the contractor and the commencement of physical works, probably in early 2021, will be the realisation of many years of effort by many on this project. I firmly believe that the price tag of €12m is value for money.
"This project will bring many opportunities to both the Ballina & Claremorris/Swinford Districts and citizens & visitors to North and East Mayo."