Clare County Council has welcomed the news that Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has approved the award of contract for the Killaloe Bypass, River Shannon Crossing and upgrade of the R494 project. Costing €44m, the preferred bidder is John Sisk & Company who will now, subject to the normal conditions of appointment, be awarded the Main Scheme Works contract and, all going well, commence construction on site in late March 2022.
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan, commented: “This is really great news not just for Killaloe and Ballina but for the counties of Clare, Tipperary and the Midwest in general. It has been many years in the making and it is absolutely fantastic that the scheme has now been approved to go to construction.”
These sentiments were echoed by Cllr Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of Killaloe Municipal District, who, along with local Killaloe Councillor Tony O’Brien, welcomed the news and recalled that the genesis for the current scheme was a proposed widening of the existing Killaloe Bridge back in the late 1990s. This was ruled out for environmental and heritage reasons but prompted a wider Traffic Management Strategy which was carried out in 2003 and identified that a new bridge crossing was required in the region downstream of the existing bridge while also recommending a bypass of Killaloe and an upgrade of the R494 as part of the longer-term strategy for Killaloe and Ballina.
Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling, advised that “the need for action to address the inadequacy of the existing route has been recognised for many years”. He also acknowledged the good work and commitment of the Project Team led by Clare County Council which also includes representatives from Tipperary County Council, the Department of Transport and the consultants RPS, adding that “the scheme will allow for the planned local, regional and national development of the area for many years to come”.
Clare County Council’s Director of Physical Development, Carmel Kirby, commented on the added value that would now arise as a consequence of the scheme. “As well as the journey time savings and improved accessibility and connectivity, there are many other environmental, tourism and health benefits accruing. These include enhanced safety measures along the R494, pedestrian and cycle facilities throughout the scheme including facilitation of the Limerick to Scarriff Greenway/Blueway, reduction in carbon levels in both towns as well as many other active travel opportunities that can now be incorporated into the recently drafted Killaloe/Ballina Mobility Plan.”
Senior Engineer in the Council’s Project Management Office, Seán Lenihan, concluded by saying: “This approval now allows the project to move at pace. We have already issued the Letter of Intent to the successful bidder, John Sisk & Co, and the Letters of Regret to the unsuccessful bidders. There are a number of conditions that Sisk will have to comply with prior to them being formally appointed but it is hoped that we will be in a position to issue the Letter of Acceptance in late January, all going well.
This will allow them to organise their supply chain issues and prepare to mobilise on site in March. Of critical importance is that they are in a position to carry out the in-water works in the river during the limited Fisheries window this summer. This early sign off by the Minister allows us to advance to the next stage of the project which is very good news indeed.”