Council closes Dale Road in order to prepare new design

Dónal Nolan

The treacherous Dale/Rathscannell stretch of the R556 between Abbeydorney and Ballyduff has been fully closed to all but residential traffic as the Council undertakes a comprehensive investigation of the route to inform a new design.

But there's no indication just yet of the length of time the road will remain closed, with some speculating it could be closed for up to three months.

The closure, which came into effect on Monday, sees the thousands of motorists who travel the busy stretch on a regular basis having to now divert west via Killahan or east via Lixnaw to get to their destinations.

Locals are happy to have secured permission to travel freely north and south on the closed stretch as they go about their business now.

"We finally got that assurance back in May when the road went one-way, but we had to fight for it," resident Blánaid Walsh said.

"Everyone is happy we can travel as usual and that passing traffic no longer poses a danger. But we have no idea how long the road will remain closed for. There's no funding for a new road yet, so we fear this could take years," Ms Walsh added. 

Kerry County Council says the closure is necessary to allow engineers examine the entire route now as the Authority prepares to apply for a new road scheme.

Grant aid of €300,000 was provided by the Department of Transport for the new design earlier this year. However, it emerged on Monday that the design hasn't started yet. 

Local Fine Gael County Councillor Aoife Thornton, who has long campaigned for a safe, new road, asked officials if the design was complete at a meeting in Listowel on Monday. 

She was told that the design could not even begin until the investigation was finished.

"The topographical survey works will require clearance works along the verges and into the adjoining lands. will commence once the road closure on the R556 comes into place from July 8. Once the surveys are completed, the detailed design works can commence," the Council informed Cllr Thornton.

"It is vital that we are in a position to secure funding in January. We're waiting another year if we don't get it then. 

"Even though it is unlikely planning permission will be in place by then, the Council informed me we could still stand to access funding if a planning application has been submitted by then," Cllr Thornton said.

She said she would 'leave no stone unturned' to help expedite the planning submission in the long-running fight for a safer road.

"As much as I don't want to see it closed, it is a relief to know it is now much safer."