Engineer defends widening of Dingle road


A COUNTY council engineer yesterday challenged claims by opponents of road-widening plans on the Dingle Peninsula that the work would destroy traditional character or “personality”, along with some stunning views.

At the opening of an oral hearing yesterday, Dara Walsh, senior engineer with Kerry County Council and the project manager, said that much of the Tralee to Dingle N86 was “substandard” in alignment, cross-section and pavement condition, with limited overtaking distance and multiple entrances and junctions. He claimed it was rare to see cyclists or pedestrians.

It is proposed to upgrade and widen over half the N86, some 28km, under a pilot scheme for national secondary tourist roads by the National Roads Authority.

The plans are to use the existing alignment and provide cycle ways and pedestrian paths on both sides of the road in a so-called type-3 single-carriageway road from Dingle to Annascaul, and Gortabreagoge to Camp, stopping at the junction to Castlegregory.

The widened road, at an estimated cost of €65 million, will also have defined overtaking sections.

Ten years ago 2,000 signatures were collected to improve the deficient N86 and a group of residents went to the European Parliament’s petitions committee to argue for an upgrade of the road when most of the funding was targeted at national primary routes.

The local ambulance service said the road was so bad that people suffering from spinal injuries were in danger of worsening their condition in an ambulance.

The N86 has now been prioritised, and is to be upgraded in stages.

However, objections have been received from sustainable development organisations in Dingle, who are questioning the scale of the proposal on environmental and tourism grounds.

An Taisce has also raised questions about the impact on the landscape.

However, ecologist Richard Mundy, who worked on the council’s environmental impact statement, said the fact that the majority of the proposed road realignment followed the course of the existing N86 “greatly reduces the likelihood of a number of ecological impacts that are ordinarily associated with road construction”.

The hearing continues.

* Some 309 landowners or groups of owners are involved in a compulsory purchase order, and most have reached agreement with the council.