The proposed new Shannon Crossing at Ballina
The beginning of the end to long traffic queues in Ballina looks in sight with the signing of the contract to build the new Shannon crossing that will link the Tipperary town with Killaloe in Clare.
For years, motorists faced long delays getting across the old bridge, especially in the summer tourist season. Some years ago a four-way traffic light system was installed but this often resulted in traffic being backed up to Larkins Gala store on the Ballina side.
Now, Tipperary County Council has announced that the contract to build the €43.7m scheme has been signed between lead authority Clare County Council and John Sisk & Sons (Holdings) Ltd following approval by the Department of Transport.
The work will also include the R494 road improvement project, which will see and upgrade of the Birdhill to Ballina route.
The contract value is €43.7m, plus VAT, and the scheme will include a cycle lane over its entire length.
The contract signing has been welcomed by local councillor Phyll Bugler.
The project team for this scheme consisting of Clare County Council, Tipperary County Council, Department of Transport and scheme consultants, RPS Consulting Engineers have been progressing the delivery of this important piece of infrastructure for the Mid-West over the past number of years.
“This is fantastic news for Ballina / Killaloe and the wider north Tipperary / east Clare area. It will get rid of the long-standing queues at the old bridge and improve the quality of life in the twin towns and allow them achieve their full potential as a premier destination in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands,” said Cllr Michael O’Meara, cathaoirleach of Nenagh Municipal District Council.
Director of services with Tipperary County Council, Marcus O’Connor said that Tipperary had been working on the scheme with Clare County Council and the Department of Transport for over 15 years.
“It was a long haul, but certainly worth it. It’s one of the biggest non-national road schemes in the country and will have a transformative impact on Ballina and its hinterland,” he said.
Cllr Bugler praised all those involved in getting the project to this stage and said the news was “fantastic” and the scheme was “badly needed”.
The Fine Gael councillor said the project, when complete, will make it easier for tourists to access the lakeside town.
Cllr Bugler further highlighted that the work will be good for local businesses and would stimulate the local economy even during the construction phase.
However, she cautioned that the three-year project would be “tough” because of the closure of the R494 and diversions on to the R496.
“Traffic management will be a big issue, but we are delighted the contract has been signed,” said Cllr Bugler.
The proposed Killaloe Bypass, Shannon Bridge crossing and R494 improvement scheme will provide a western bypass of Killaloe, a new bridge crossing of the River Shannon and an upgrade of the existing R494 regional road from Ballina to the N7 at Birdhill.
The entire scheme is approximately 6.2km and will cross the Shannon approximately 1km to the south of the existing Killaloe bridge. It will also cross the Kilmastulla River (a tributary of the River Shannon and part of the Lower River Shannon SAC) on the R494.
Local TD Alan Kelly drove the scheme forward when he was Minister for the Environment, setting aside the funding for the work.
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