WORKS at Blake’s Corner will not be complete until the end of 2021 at the earliest.
Clare County Council aim to complete a “detailed design” of the project in early 2019, subject to approval from Transport Infrastructure Ireland they hope to put works to tender later that year and award a tender in the spring or summer of 2020. The construction phase is expected to last up to eighteen months.
Current works ongoing at the traffic blackspot include; the procurement and carrying out of baseline surveys, engagement with affected landowners plus the acquiring of consultants for CPO. The Council are working to ensure all necessary elements comply with TII requirements. Later this year, CPO drawings and schedules will be completed; this will be followed by submission to the TII and later An Bord Pleanála.
“Please be assured that where time can be shortened and made up, we will make every effort to do so in order to deliver this much needed infrastructure at the earliest juncture for the people of Ennistymon and the wider communities who live or visit the area of North Clare. Additionally, further consideration will be given to any measure that might improve traffic flow in the area”, Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby told elected representatives this week.
West Clare councillors, Gabriel Keating, Richard Nagle and Bill Slattery sought a progress report and a timeline for the provision of the bridge crossing at Blake’s Corner at the September meeting of the local authority. The trio were frustrated by “the serious grid lock that it is causing for the people of our county and the many thousands of visitors that visit.”
Cllr Bill Slattery said “I’m disappointed it’s going to take four years”. He criticised the Council for failing to meet affected landowners, “nobody has called to any of these”.
According to Cllr Richard Nagle, “there have been four accidents at Blake’s Corner over the past few weeks and we’re not in the busy part of the season”. He questioned the length of time involved with the project “The timeframe seems exceptionally long, people are sceptical that this timeframe will be adhered to. Why it is now going to take a further four years to have the bridge operational”.
Both Slattery and Nagle queried why the Council would be going back to An Bord Pleanála. Carmel Kirby told them that this must happen as part of the CPO process. Regarding Cllr Slattery’s comments on the landowners, she stated “Engagement with landowners is critical, we have written to affected landowners”. She continued, “We have had robust conversation with consultants being appointed and will ensure this is delivered by end of 2021. We really do hope to stick to that”.
Independent Cllr Christy Curtin acknowledged the commitment given by Clare County Council, “is there the same urgency among TII”, he asked. Kirby confirmed, “there is an absolute commitment from TII”. Joining the discussion, Cllr Gerry Flynn enquired if a traffic management plan would be in place at the location, “it’s mayhem” he declared.
Council CEO, Pat Dowling outlined that he “fully understands” the concerns raised by councillors. “We don’t write the rules on these things, we have to go to TII and follow CPO process. It is a slow process and we can’t make it any faster, we will keep vigilance with all the agencies”, he said. Dowling concluded, “it is a very difficult situation, we’re moving as quick as we can within national rules”.