Friday 19 July 2019

Council urged not to close road during N72 works

Councillors say closing road could devastate local businesses

Bill Browne

A senior Cork County Council official has warned that it may not be possible to avoid closing a section of the busy N72 Mallow-Fermoy road and put diversions in place during a major works project next year.

In his report to the council's northern area committee the council's acting head of road services, Aidan Weir, wrote that tenders for pavement and resurfacing works along the N72 at Grange east and west will issued next month. 

He wrote that, subject to approval from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), construction would begin in 2019 and that a road closure "will be required". 

However, local councillors have urged the authority to avoid closing the N72 to traffic, warning that it would have a devastating impact on villages along the road, which is one of the busiest in Cork. 

Cllr Noel McCarthy (FG) urged Mr Weir to look at alternatives to a road closure, saying the issue was causing "serious concern" to locals and businesses in the area. 

"We only have to look back a couple of years when sections of the N72 between Fermoy and Mallow were closed for months to facilitate works. While it was a fantastic job, it caused huge problems for people," said Cllr McCarthy. 

"Even the roads that were used for diversions had to undergo repair works afterwards due to the volume of traffic using them," he added. 

Both he and his party colleague, Cllr Kay Dawson, pointed out that businesses in Ballyhooly and Castletownroche were severely impacted by the previous road closure, with Cllr Deirdre O'Brien (FF) pointing out that many of them never fully recovered from the loss of trade experienced. 

Cllr McCarthy called on the council to do all it could to "keep traffic moving" during the works, even if this meant doing the bulk of work at night to minimise the impact of closing the road to traffic. 

Mr Weir said he understood the sentiments behind the councillors comments and the "angst" felt by local communities following the previous road closure. 

"However, from a health and safety point of view, it will be very difficult to undertake works on a narrow road like the N72 without some road closures," said Mr Weir. 

"The project will not go to construction until the end of next year. In the meantime we will look at what can be done to minimise their impact, but it may not be possible to avoid closing the road," he warned.