independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Costs halt cross-border bridge plan

The bridge would have connected Cornamucklagh with Narrow Water near Warrenpoint

Long-awaited plans for a cross-border bridge at the site of one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles have been binned because of costs.

Council bosses in Co Louth have pulled the plug after bids for the job from construction firms came in substantially above budget.

Despite five years' planning and funding from Europe, Dublin and Stormont, Louth County Council said contractors' prices were considerably higher than the figures its officials have been working from.

"This leaves us with a substantial funding shortfall. Our focus now is on seeing if this can be filled through any combination of additional funding and cost reductions," a spokesman said.

"While our ambition remains to see this socially and economically desirable project through to completion, the reality is that it is now effectively on hold."

Another sticking point is believed to be an assurance from Louth County Council that it would meet any cost overruns. The council said bids for the project ranged from 26 to 40 million euro.

The Irish Government committed four million euro to the project in January with the Northern Ireland assembly agreeing to stump up 16.2m euro in May. The European Union had offered the project funding of 17.4 million euro.

The Narrow Water cable-stayed bridge, 195 metres long, has been in the planning for at least five years and would have connected Cornamucklagh near Omeath, Co Louth with Narrow Water near Warrenpoint, Co Down at an historic crossing point. The entire build would have been 620m long.

Backers of the scheme claimed it was crucial to the prospects for economic regeneration and reconciliation of the border community in Louth and Down.

Narrow Water was the spot were a convoy of British paratroopers were blown up by a remote control roadside bomb in 1979. It was the army's greatest loss of life in one day in Northern Ireland with 18 soldiers killed.

Press Association

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