LIMERICK City and County Council expect to sign up a contractor to complete the upgrade of the N21 at Barnagh ‘within months’.
Council engineer, Ger Carey, told councillors at a meeting of the Newcastle West Municipal District last week that tenders for the work had been received and he expected contracts would be signed by “the end of October or early November”.
He expected work to begin on the second phase of the Barnagh upgrade in early summer.
The funding for the upgrade, along the 1.5km stretch of road from the Killarney Pole to the new road at Barnagh, was allocated earlier this year. It was the only road in Limerick to be included in a €43m roads package announced before the local elections in May.
In order to facilitate the work, councillors were asked to agree a roads closure of the local road L1316-312 in Ballintubrid. “We have had to look for an eleven month closure to cover the period of the contract,” Mr Carey said.
“The main reason for this is to facilitate work around the Killarney pole.”
However, he added: “We don’t anticipate the works being longer than a number of weeks, but we don’t know when the developer wants to do the work within the period of the contract.”
“The closure order will come into force next April but there will be access for local traffic from both ends. “No one will be hemmed in,” Mr Carey assured councillors.
Cllr Michael Collins asked that a letter or leaflet be distributed to householders in the area explaining the detail about the road closure.
“Often information doesn’t get through,” he said, “or there is misinformation.”
All councillors welcomed the imminent start of the phase 2 upgrade. But Cllr Francis Foley criticised the fact that ordinary garden fencing had been used in phase one of the Barnagh project. This fencing blew down in the February storms and is now being replaced.
This new fencing is strong and sturdy, Cllr Foley said, and should last several years. But he was critical of the waste of money involved in putting up the garden fencing in the first place and he hoped the same mistake would not be made in phase two.
“Any person who drove the N21 would know how bad that road was and how good it now is,” Cllr Liam Galvin said.
“It is the best job done in West Limerick for a long time and a job that has saved a lot of lives.”
“I don’t want to be the person throwing cold water on this,” Cllr Jerome Scanlan said. But he said he was concerned about the safety issue of a right turn at the top of Barnagh gap.
“The person turning right is taking their life in their hands,” he said. “You don’t expect anyone to be turning right off the fast lane.”
The matter is outside the scope of the present project, councillors were told, but they agreed to ask the council’s roads section to investigate the matter, design a solution and apply for further funding to the National Roads Authority.