Protest today over Latoon bridge closure

Protest today over Latoon bridge closure

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Locals previously held a protest at Latoon in June 2016 – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

A protest will take place today as Clare County Council closes a ‘lifeline’ bridge for repair works leaving a village at risk of having its business destroyed.

The bridge at Latoon, which is ‘structurally compromised’ and requires to be completely replaced, is located on the old N18 Limerick to Ennis road near Dromoland.

Locals and businesses say the life will be choked out of Clarecastle village if the planned closure goes today especially so close to Christmas.

While Clare County Council has acknowledged the difficulties the closure will pose to the local community, a spokesman said a full closure is unavoidable because of the extent of the works required.

The route is a vital artery and access point to Clarecastle and its closure will cause untold hardship to local businesses.

Business owners in the village want to see todays planned closure of the road postponed until after Christmas and to be concluded within three months rather than the six proposed by Clare County Council.

Locals, who have held previous protests at the same bridge when large trucks flouted a weight ban, claim that the local authority did not hold adequate consultation on the closure.

Earlier this year, investigative works began on the bridge which the council now says it has no choice but to close.

Clare County Council has said the bridge will have to have to be demolished and reconstructed.

According to council’s consulting engineers, the works will take approximately 6 months to complete however with favourable conditions, works may be completed ahead of schedule.

Local councillor Paul Murphy has said the council has little choice in the matter.

“This has been going on for about two years. They had engineers in looking at the bridge and looked at whether the bridge could have been repaired but that wasn’t feasible. The fear was that any repairs wouldn’t have been long-term and they would end up going back to the drawing board again in a few years,” Cllr Murphy said.

Motorists turn around after arriving to find the bridge had been closed – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Clare County Council has said: “The old Latoon Bridge will not be accessible during the proposed work period due to its location within the Latoon Creek Bridge construction site. Whilst Clare County Council regrets the proposed works will inconvenience commuters, the current structural condition of this post-tensioned bridge dictates that these significant works be undertaken to ensure a full level of service on the R458 in the future.”

Clarecastle businessman Emelyn Heaps says the closure will devastate businesses in the village.

“If this closure proceeds, the council will be doing it at the worst possible time without having considered all the options. Regardless of what works are required on the bridge, there is an engineering solution available but the council insists there isn’t one so, they are either asking the wrong engineers and contractors or they are constrained by budget,” Mr Heaps said.

Businessman PJ Keogh warned last week that a protest would take place if the council hadn’t reconsidered the closure plan by Friday last.

“Business people have no option now but to protest at the bridge however they get there, by foot or bicycle or whatever it takes to stop this proposed closure,” Mr Keogh said.

 

 

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick.

Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station’s flagship current affairs programme.

He was also the station’s News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day.

As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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