The new bridge at Bruckless should be fully open to traffic next week, engineers said. There is a traffic-light system in place now to allow one-way traffic to cross the bridge, while the final surfacing is completed.
The new bridge replaces a graceful, arched stone structure that has served south Donegal for more than a century. But the bends in the N56 at the Creamery Road Bridge were not designed to accommodate the much larger and longer transport vehicles that now travel those roads.
“Companies were going to stop coming here if we didn’t get the bridge done,” said Fine Gael Cllr. John Boyle, whose company, Killybegs Stevedoring Ltd., loads and unloads ships at the Killybegs port.
The €950,000 Bruckless project softens the bends that traffic must negotiate to cross the new bridge. The Bruckless project is part of a larger contract that involves two bridge replacements in Cavan and four bridge replacements in Roscommon. Coffey Construction Ltd. of Athenry, Co. Galway, are the contractors appointed for the scheme.
Thomas Kerr, engineer with the Donegal National Roads Design Office, said the most notable difference for motorists using the new bridge with be the gentler alignment that the roadworks has created. The overall road width on the span will increase from 7 to 7.5 metres.
The scheme also involves a realignment of about 200 metres along the N56, including the eight-metre-long bridge, to improve safety and visibility, and to aid in the general flow of traffic, Mr. Kerr said. He said the project was also designed to accommodate the movement of heavy goods vehicles that travel to and from the port at Killybegs.
Cllr. Boyle said that lorries carrying blades and other parts of wind turbines, for example, had to travel in the off hours so that they would not block traffic while negotiating the bends in the road at the bridge.
“They’re not heavy loads, but they are a huge lengths of a load,” he said. A blade from a wind turbine alone could stretch 35 metres, he said. The councillor has been lobbying for the bridge for about five years, he said.
“There is hugely important traffic in and out of Killybegs,” the councillor said. The bridge sits on the main road from Killybegs to Donegal Town.
The work included not only realigning the road and building the bridge, but also diverting the river that flowed beneath the bridge. The stone bridge will remain as a roadside feature along the new bridge, a reminder of the county’s earlier transport needs.