Temporary bridge concerns raised

A temporary bridge on an important artery to west Donegal is causing traffic disruption it has been claimed.

A temporary bridge on an important artery to west Donegal is causing traffic disruption it has been claimed.

Donegal County Council erected a temporary bailey bridge at the weekend on the R252 at the Elactagh bridge after a report found the narrow bridge to be unfit for purpose.

The council has been criticised for not ensuring the bridge was replaced before with the cost of the temporary measures estimated at 50,000 euro.

A replacement bridge had been sought but a county councillor says a delay on the construction has been caused by a policy change in the council.

Cllr. Patrick McGowan said that since the bridge was installed he has been told that large vehicles, including lorries and school buses, are having difficulty crossing it because it is too narrow. He said the bridge has also been damaged by vehicles crossing it.

“One lorry got stuck on the bridge and had to go back and go on by Letterkenny. The bridge is too narrow and it highlights the urgency of the situation. We need to have it prioritised by the council. This is a very busy road and the main artery through the county from west Donegal to the Finn Valley and Tyrone.”

Donegal County Council said it has has not received any direct complaints in relation to traffic problems on this bridge.

The council said it is monitoring the traffic and will make any minor adjustments on the road approaches if necessary.

Area manager for roads Hugh Fox told the November meeting of the Stranorlar electoral area committee that the temporary bridge had to be erected from a health and safety point of view. He said the construction of a new bridge will take nine months if a planning application is not appealed.

Cllr. McGowan said the delay in constructing a new bridge has been caused by the council deciding that it could not spend money allocated for strengthening on building a new bridge. He said he hoped that the temporary bridge will not be there for ten years.

“There was money allocated for new bridge and it was partly started and it has been left like a building site,” he said.

“Work was done, materials were ordered and then we were told in September that we were not able to spend the money. 50,000 euro for a temp bridge - that is an absolute disgrace. We have no guarantee that this will be a priority.”

He claimed there was a disagreement between senior figures in the council over the interpretation of the funding and added that there was a major problem in communications between the council and the department.

Mr. Fox the way the terms and conditions for road and bridge funding application are written leave them open to interpretation.

Cllr. Frank McBrearty (Lab) welcomed the erection of the temporary bridge. He said the problems concerning the bridge pre-dated his election to the council.

Cllr. Martin Harley (FG) said residents are happy with the bailey bridge as it is much better than what was there.