Plans to build Narrow Water bridge are moving at a apace, as Louth County Council signal the first step in the tender process which it is hoped will see the first bridge spanning Carlingford Lough.
Despite online reports that the historic bridge is already out to tender, the Argus has learned that the council have merely issued a ‘Prior Information Notice’ or PIN onto national and European tendering websites.
Thomas McEvoy, head of Enterprise at Louth County Council explained that a ‘PIN’ is used by Local Authorities on complex projects.
"They signal to the wider market that the Local Authority has a specific upcoming project that they intend will go to tender in the future.”
He added: “Following on from this notice, Louth County Council anticipates that it will issue Suitability Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) documents to the market in July this year. These will be assessed to create a panel of competent contractors who may wish to tender for the project.”
As announced by the Taoiseach in July 2021, €3 million in Shared Island funding was approved by Government to bring the Narrow Water Bridge project to tender.
"This is an important cross-border project and involves authorities on both sides of the border working together to deliver benefits for the communities, locally and across the island. It is anticipated that Louth County Council will issue formal tender documents for the project in Q4 of this year, subject to obtaining Government approval,” said Thomas.
“Louth County Council will also be carrying out an advanced works contract for the construction of a compensatory bird roost site. It is envisaged that these works will commence in the summer of 2022.”
North Louth Councillor Andrea and Newry and Mourne District Councillor Declan McAteer issued a joint statement on the latest development in the Narrow Water bridge project.
“As Councillors who have been involved in the Narrow Water Bridge project since we both became Councillors welcome the confirmation from Louth County Council that they have now moved to tender stage. This follows on from recent wind tunnel testing of the design carried out in Denmark.”
“Based on the assumption that works will commence in mid 2023 we feel now is the time for both Louth and Newry Mourne and Down Councils to push forward with supplementary plans to build upon the opportunities arising out of the bridge project.”
“We know there will be finance available from the new Peace Plus Programme and there is already preparatory funding available which would inform larger schemes delivering the revitalisation of towns and villages such as Warrenpoint, Omeath, Rostrevor, Carlingford and Greenore around Carlingford Lough.
We have already discussed many ideas at our joint Council Strategic Alliance meetings, examples being the development of food tourism, coordinated entertainment , festivals, cycling routes and cross-lough water activities.
These need to be firmed up in order to come online in tandem with the completion of the project, thus deriving maximum value from, which no doubt will be, a substantial financial investment.
North Louth Councillor Antoin Watters told The Argus that moves towards putting the project to tender “are incredibly welcome.”
A member of the cross border MOU, he added that pushing forward with the Narrow Water Bridge project has been a “huge focus” for the committee for the last few years.
“It’s obviously really good news for the area that Louth County Council are moving towards the tender stage. It’s been worked on for a very long time, and will be a fantastic addition to the entire border area, especially now with the extension of the Greenway, it’s going to be another huge part of the north Louth and sown area. We rely quite heavily on tourism in this area, and this should be a real boost for employment.”
"There have been a lot of delays to the project over the last ten years and more, so we are looking forward to action, and seeing the Narrow Water Bridge built.”