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ASSURANCES HAVE BEEN issued for the future of the Killaloe Bridge and Bypass project.

Approval was granted for the project in December by Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP) when he gave Clare County Council the thumbs up to award the contract for the €43.7m Killaloe Bypass, River Shannon Crossing and upgrade of the R494 project to John Sisk & Son. The cost of the project has now risen substantially.

A letter of acceptance was issued to the construction company on February 16th 2022. Seán Lenihan, senior engineer in the Project Management Office of Clare County Council explained, “they were essentially in contract as of March 16th 2022 with works allowed to start on site anytime thereafter. The contract period is for 33 months,” and the start date will be decided by Sisk.

Speaking on Monday, he quelled fears that Sisk have withdrawn from the project and that Department funding was pulled. The letter of acceptance and Chief Executives order formally appointing RPS Consulting Engineers as consultant to provide site supervisory roles and engineering staff “has been prepared and will be issued once we have the main contractors detailed construction programme to hand”.

In the May edition of the Council’s monthly management report, Lenihan outlined, “We are all aware of the issues affecting the construction industry generally with hyper-inflation driving up costs significantly, unprecedented supply chain difficulties due to Brexit, the Ukrainian conflict, economic sanctions applied against Russia and more recently, regrettably the fallout from the Roadbridge receivership and the combined effect of these has hindered the commencement of the works on site”.

Programme sequencing is under review to try facilitate alternative procurement strategies to secure the supply chain and manage inflationary risk. Lenihan said they are working closely with Sisks to progress the project “at the earliest juncture” but conceded, “while the resequencing of some works may assist with Sisks commencement on site, it will not address the significant cost escalations since the works were priced late last year”.

Current works ongoing related to the project include remaining land acquisitions, ecological monitoring of the bat roost structure and reports into the yet to be received results to the testing and carbon dating analysis of archaeological items uncovered during the investigation works carried out on site in 2021.

At the May meeting of the Council, Cllr Pat Burke (FG) sought “further assurance” that the project was “on track”. He commented, “the report is positive but we’re a bit concerned on the ground”.

Lenihan referenced the pressures faced by the construction sector presently, “our project is no different”. He revealed that concerns exist regarding the price issued in last August compared with the current-day figure. “We are in negotiations with Sisk, to allay any rumours Sisk have not withdrawn and the Department have not pulled the funding”.

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