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AN OUTCOME on an oral hearing held by An Bord Pleánala held in June to explore future options for Blake’s Corner will not be known “for some months yet,” senior officials in Clare County Council have conceded.

Clare County Council had been hopeful of receiving a decision before the end of 2021 but have not adjusted their expectations. A virtual oral hearing took place on June 9th and 10th via Microsoft Teams. It followed a compulsory purchase order by the local authority for two properties at Blake’s Corner in Ennistymon, fourteen objections had been issued for the CPO.

Under the proposed N67/N85 Inner Relief Road at Ennistymon, traffic congestion issues in the North Clare town will be addressed. It involves the construction of a new bridge approximately 80m upstream of the existing Michael Conway Bridge. The existing bridge, a protected 7-arch masonry bridge, will be pedestrianised to allow pedestrian and cyclist access only, and a plaza will be constructed at the western end.

Cllr Shane Talty (FF) sought an update on the current status of the inner relief road at Monday’s meeting of the Council. “It was subject to media attention in December, some of it negative which suggested years were going back and progress was slow”.

Director of Service, Carmel Kirby referred to a recent accident at Blake’s Corner and said the Council were “eagerly awaiting” a decision from An Bord Pleánala. “It is almost overdue at this stage,” she admitted. Detailed design and land acquisition would follow a favourable outcome, if granted.

Ongoing support of Transport Infrastructure Ireland to finding a solution to Blake’s Corner was acknowledged by Seán Lenihan. The senior engineer in the Council’s project management office added, “some of the negative press over Christmas was disappointing to hear, considerable work has been done in the last couple of years”. He added, “I know we had an accident there before Christmas, over 12,000 cars turning that corner every day in both directions, most driver behaviours are aware of complexity of the junction”.

Lenihan told the meeting that it would be a “multi-million euro project”. The oral hearing “took twelve months” to take place with the planning authority, he said. “It is still with the inspector, it hasn’t gone to the board so I expect it will be a couple of months yet,” the Miltown Malbay native revealed. “If the decision is favourable we will be moving at pace, TII are fully behind a resolution of the current situation”.

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