Council chief says €280m Macroom bypass ‘progressing well’

New 22km stretch of Co Cork dual carriageway is on target to be open by 2023

Good progress is being made on the €280 million Macroom bypass in Co Cork which is on schedule to be open to traffic by 2023, Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey has said.

Work commenced on the 22km stretch of dual carriageway in March, and about 20 per cent of the job has now been completed, including a particularly difficult section near Macroom, he said.

“There is certainly another 2½ years construction involved, but it is progressing well and is on target to be completed and open to traffic by 2023,” he told The Irish Times.

The contractors, Jons Civil Engineering and John Cradock JV Ltd, recently put in place beams for a bridge over the River Laney, just outside Macroom, which were manufactured by Banagher Precast Concrete in Co Offaly.

“The contractors successfully put in place seven precast concrete beams – they were 49.9m long . . . and they are the longest precast concrete beams to be placed on any bridge structure in Ireland or the UK,” Mr Lucey said.

“Each beam is 155 tonnes, and they had to be brought down from Birr with a Garda escort over four nights. There were a few close calls along the way with only 200mm height to spare going through the Jack Lynch Tunnel.”

Mr Lucey said spanning the Laney was just one of the many challenges facing the contractors as the terrain varied greatly – from hilly, remote land with rock outcrops at the western end to low lying pasture lands to the east.

Patience

Mary Flynn, Cork County Council’s project manager, thanked the people of Macroom for their patience with any disruption caused by the works.

“This scheme has been many years in planning and when complete, will result in a significant improvement of the N22, in terms of road safety, journey time savings and enhanced connectivity between Cork and Kerry,” she said.

Paul Moran, regional manager for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), said progress was being made “behind the hedges and walls” even if the public might not always be able to see it.

“It is fantastic to see the works and, in particular, all the bridges that connect people and businesses, taking shape and we, in TII, want to sincerely thank all the people on site for doing a really great job.”

According to TII, the Macroom bypass will link up with the existing N22 at Coolcower on the eastern outskirts of the town. It will pass north of Macroom, emerging west of the town where it will cross the existing N22 route near Carrigaphooka before skirting north of Ballymakeera and Ballyvourney and linking up again with the existing N22 route near the county bounds.

According to TII, the project will involve the construction of some 18 road bridges, four river bridges and it will also involve the diversion of the Owengarve river through a culvert.

Journey time

The route, which is part of the main artery linking Cork to Killarney, currently sees some 14,000 vehicles travel it daily, but the proposed bypass has been designed to cater for more than 20,000 daily vehicular movements.

It is estimated the bypass could save between 11 and 17 minutes on a journey time, depending on where the motorist leaves from.

Cork North West Fine Gael TD Michael Creed, a long time campaigner for the bypass, said it would provide a safer route and improve the quality of life for people living in Macroom.

“When I grew up in the town years ago, people lived on Main Street and on New Street but those streets have been shelled out as a result of the heavy traffic,” he said. “But now there is a real possibility of the centre of Macroom becoming a living town again, and that has to be one of the great benefits as well as the quality of life for people who use the town with heavy traffic being removed.”