By Noel Dundon
The provision of a link road in Thurles has been considerably boosted this week by the signing of a contract for the building of a bridge over the main Dublin - Cork railway line near the Thurles Community Hospital of the Assumption.
The link road project has been in the pipeline for some time with North Tipperary County Council having undertaken a significant amount of work on the approaches at both sides of the bridge location.
The footprint had been in place for a number of months, but the local authority has moved on the process in recent weeks with the roadways almost completed. This means that once the bridge is in place, a final finishing coat will be applied and the first vehicles will be able to drive on the link road.
Mayor of North Tipperary, Cllr Micheal Lowry welcomed the news this week and told The Tipperary Star that the contractor will be on site to start work on the bridge within the next few weeks.
“This is great news for us because it means that ,all going well, the whole link road will be completed early in the new year. It will make a big difference to the traffic situation in Thurles and should help alleviate some of the problems being experienced. As people will be aware, work on the roadway and embankments has already been undertaken and this means that the building of the bridge, although a tricky project considering that the rail line will be fully operational during the construction period, will be relatively quick and efficient. It’s a very positive step forward after a few false starts,” Mayor Lowry said.
The link road will provide a route from the Templemore road to the Nenagh road, through the Cluain Glas estate at Brittas out at Monanearla, adjacent to the Thurles Community Hospital of the Assumption. It will mean that traffic heading to or from the Midlands wishing to link with the Nenagh/ Limerick route, will not have to travel through the centre of Thurles town as heretofore, and will reduce the amount of town centre traffic quite considerably.
There has also been some news on the proposed Thurles by-pass - the relief road around the town - with the NRA Peer Review now underway. This is an extensive internal review process undertaken with major projects to ensure that once sanctioning is given, no further snags or delays can crop up. Mayor Lowry and Cllr Seamus Hanafin spoke to us about this.
“I and council officials have been in touch with the NRA Board to ensure that this Peer Review is carried out as quickly as possible. There have been a few delays with this project already and we are rattling cages to make sure that no more delays materialise. A number of high level commerical projects are on hold as a result of the delays and in order to sustain the economic viability of the town, we need a speedy conclusion to this phase of the project,” Mayor Lowry said.
The route selection process has been the cause of a lot of frustration for elected representatives over the last six months or so with the NRA having promised a decision on the route back in the spring - that still has not happened, although the expectation is that the next two weeks will see an announcement made.
Councillor Seamus Hanafin confirmed to The Tipperary Star, “I have received assurances that an announcement is imminent and I would welcome that because it is very important that we keep this moving forward. This stage has taken a year longer than was first anticipated and despite councillors raising it at every single council meeting this year, we are still waiting. Hopefully not for much longer,”Cllr Hanafin said.