Cllr. Niamh Kennedy
Months of lobbying by Cllr. Niamh Kennedy, has resulted in confirmation today, that work will begin this year both on Tirconnail Bridge in Donegal Town and Fintra Bridge on the R263, between Killybegs and Kilcar.
Speaking as she stepped down after a year as chair of the Donegal Municipal District of Donegal County Council, Cllr Kennedy said she was delighted to receive confirmation of major progress on both bridge projects.
"Minster for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, has approved a maximum of €700,000 on the Tirconnail Bridge," she said, "and a further report is to be sought from Donegal County Council about upgrading proposals for Fintra Bridge following which work should also begin before the end of 2017".
Cllr Kennedy, who is a member of the Independent Alliance group of representatives, said she was confident that, once the technical details of the Fintra Bridge design had been resolved, Minister Ross was committed to supporting the progression of this project.
"My understanding is that the initial proposals for the proposed curve of the new Fintra Bridge were not in line with standards laid down by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). Once these technical adjustments have been made, the project should proceed without undue delay," Cllr Kennedy said.
She added that she was delighted at the announcement of funds for the Tirconnail Bridge in Donegal Town.
"Given the need to update the tender package and to go through the procurement process, it will be year-end before construction can commence," Cllr Kennedy said.
She noted that costs of €18,000, which are predicted over the next five months, will have to be carried by the Council for now and recouped from the Department through a grant in 2018 when most expenditure will be incurred.
She added: "This bridge is part of an important link road within Donegal Town. It has been necessary for the Council to apply a 3.5 tonne weight restriction to this bridge because of the poor structural condition of the bridge.
"It is clear that major rehabilitation works are required at this bridge and the proposed option of a replacement bridge deck and associated works at a total cost of €700,000 is the best overall solution. I am deeply grateful to Minister Ross for the attention he has given to these two bridge projects.
Minister Ross today said: “Tirconnail Bridge is at the heart of the community. However, due to the Bridge’s age and general wear and tear, it was nearing the point of danger to those using and relying upon it.
"Today’s announcement, and the works that will follow, will improve the efficiency and safety of the entire local transport network. This upgrade will ensure the connectivity in the town is maintained, helping the local economy while also providing safe pedestrian access.”
With regard to Fintra Bridge, Minister Ross said: “Some months ago I met with Councillor Niamh Kennedy and a delegation from the Donegal County Council who impressed upon me their concerns for the bridges. Thanks to Councillor Kennedy’s tireless work highlighting the need for these works, I am now pleased to confirm that this project will go ahead.”