Massive steel girders engineered in Spain arrived this week on site on the slopes above Baile Mhúirne to help complete a spectacular viaduct over the Gaeltacht village as part of the long awaited N22 bypass project.
The girders will form part of a 130m viaduct span which will be 15m above ground and on the slopes to the north of Baile Mhúirne. The N22 bypass of Baile Mhúirne and Macroom is being carried out by the main contractor, Jons Civil Engineering/John Cradock JV Ltd(CJV).
The girders were manufactured by leading Spanish steel engineering company Tecade, a company which has been responsible for some of the most high profile construction projects around the world. These include the Puerta de Las Rozas, a bridge near Madrid renowned for its 45m mast, a 102m length and an innovative cable-stayed design at the time it was built in 2007.
The girders for the Baile Mhúirne viaduct were transported from Seville in Spain to the Múscraí Gaeltacht and arrived at the beginning of this week.
"In the planning for months, it will take a total of 20 trucks to bring the 700 tonne structure to site, eight of which are abnormal loads that will require skilled drivers and Garda escorts," a spokesman for the project explained.
"The beams are currently being assembled to form a two-span 120-metre-long structure which will be "pushed launched" over the River Bohill in 80 and 40 metre sections.
"The beams are expected to be fully in place by April 2020".
Push launching is a construction method where beams are assembled on site on solid ground next to the river and pushed into place on the intermediate piers over the river.
The 120m long viaduct will span the Bohill river and the route known locally as the 'Top Road'.
A similar type of structure is planned for Cúl na Cathrach, roughly 5km outside the village of Baile Mhic Íre and a site of historical importance because of a key War of Independence ambush which occurred there in February 1921.
"The structure proposed at Cúl na Cathrach is a concrete structure, it is approximately 55m long and approximately 6m higher than the local road," described the spokesman.
"Additional side spans are on either side of the road to minimise the impact on the local landscape and the site of the 1921 ambush. These side spans also assist in appreciation of the topography of the ambush site."
The works on the N22 bypass are among a handful of construction projects to continue during the Level 5 lockdown announced just after Christmas to counter the surging spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The spokesman said the project was on schedule to be completed in late 2023 though sections of the road might be opened in the interim, depending on circumstances.