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THE OPW have given early March as the date for the opening of two temporary bridges of Claregalway to allow the permanent bridge at Claregalway Castle be closed temporarily for flood relief work.

It had initially been hoped that the temporary pontoon bridges would be in place before Christmas but the need for an extensive archaeological survey of the area before work could begin delayed matters.

The temporary roadway and bridges are being installed on the Claregalway Abbey side of the road.  This is being done to prevent major-disruption to traffic on the N17 which is one of the county’s busiest traffic arteries.

Over 30,000 vehicles pass through Claregalway on an average day and it was decided that the initial plan to put a stop-go system in place to the bridge was not feasible.

There are considerable concerns locally that any major disruption to traffic during the work will put severe pressure on minor roads which are used as rat-runs by city commuters.

Martin Mansergh, Minister of State at the Department of Finance with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), this week announced that the advance works at Claregalway Bridge have commenced.

Recent weather has underlined the urgency of carrying out works as soon as possible, to reduce the vulnerability of Claregalway to renewed flooding events.

The Minister stated that “While the archaeological investigation is ongoing, the sites for the abutments for the temporary bridges have been cleared and the preparation of the diversion route across the temporary bridges has commenced.  We hope to have the approach roads area cleared shortly, so the works can proceed without further interrruption and we expect the temporary bridge to be in operation by early March.”

The Minister continued: “Excavation and construction of the flood eye will then begin, and it is anticipated that this will be completed within a two month period when traffic will be re-routed back onto the N17.  Some minor ancillary and restoration work will remain at that stage, but this will have no impact on the general public.”

The Minister concluded: “The proposed work at Crusheen Bridge will be undertaken immediately after completion of the flood eye works at Claregalway.”

by Tony Galvin, The Tuam Herald