Margaret Reale and her brother Robert Creed outside their store in Elton which they say has become 'very quiet' due to diversions as a result of the bridge closure
A BRIDGE closure has caused “fierce confusion” leaving a village essentially cut off from the rest of the county, local residents have claimed.
Safety works which are being carried out on Elton bridge near Knocklong have resulted in the entire bridge being closed to traffic, and detours being put in place in surrounding areas.
“There is fierce confusion because when you come to Knocklong it says road closed but the road technically isn’t closed going to Elton, it’s just at the bridge just after Elton on the way back to Martinstown,” explained Margaret Reale, shop manager of Creed’s grocery shop in Elton.
Ms Reale runs the business - which also includes a petrol station and is an agency for An Post - with her brother Robert Creed.
“It is having a fierce effect on business, it’s very quiet. There is no passing trade because the main road is shut. The locals are staying as loyal as they can,” Ms Reale explained.
The bridge which has been closed since Tuesday of last week is due to remain closed until October 2 to allow for what Iarnrod Eireann have described as “essential safety works” to be carried out.
“The job has to be done but a strategic plan should have been put in place and locals should have all gotten better information,” said Ms Reale.
While Ms Reale says the detours - which are directing traffic to various towns and villages in the surrounding areas - “are OK”, the signage, she says, “makes it look like Elton is unaccessible.
“It looks like you can’t go back the road between Elton and Knocklong the way the signage is done whereas you can. The signage should say HGVs only shouldn’t go. General traffic - cars and vans could come back through Elton and go by Bulgaden and go back that way but instead they are being brought down to Hospital and over to Bruff and back - that’s really ridiculous because they could just come to Elton. It’s a lot shorter to come to Elton, to Bottomstown, Bulgaden and straight to Kilmallock,” Ms Reale continued.
Cllr Eddie Ryan from Galbally has called on people in the surrounding area to support the business people in Elton.
“I call on people to be loyal to the businesses and to make their way to them and help them keep the show on the road there and to bear in mind that this work is especially in the interest of health and safety of rail users and road users who will using that road,” said the Galbally-based councillor.
“It will widen the bridge to help traffic - on the Monday it is a very busy spot heading to Kilmallock.”
Iarnrod Eireann spokesperson Jane Cregan said that because major structural works are being carried out on the bridge “it was not possible to keep a section of the road open
“This is major work. It is having a negative effect on the community and we do apologise for that but unfortunately we have no other alternative but to put this diversion in place,” she stated.