BY LEO McMAHON
WHEN Tim Lucey takes up duty as the new Cork County Manager, one of the first requests he will receive is urgent attention to the surface of the street where he grew up, Watergate in Bandon.
As the Mayor of Bandon Deirdre Lane, called for a ‘blitz on potholes,’ long-suffering residents of Watergate Street are demanding that their road get priority. They say it’s so bad that they simply can’t wait for re-instatement until completion of the sewerage scheme which has still to re-commence and want a basic, driveable surface be laid in the short term.
Resident and flood victim in 2009, Gillian Powell, who runs Haven Montessori School, told The Southern Star that the road surface was never great and the section from the creamery towards Kilbeg hadn’t been resurfaced for many years unlike the stretch from the charity shop to the creamery which was reinstated after it was dug up and closed for six weeks during work on the first phase of the sewerage scheme, resulting in a long traffic diversion for residents.
‘We now have a patchwork quilt of a road much used by residents, businesses, school-goers and farmers and it’s depressing’. Acknowledging the fact that further work on the stalled sewerage scheme is due to start later this year, Gillian added: ‘Even even the small investment of a skim would be a great boost’.
Next stop was across the street to the home of Derek and Hilary O’Driscoll who have three children. Hilary (nee Canniffe), who grew up in nearby Knockbrogan Terrace and has relatives in Watergate Street, said: ‘it’s like an assault course’ and going along the street with a lorry and trying to fill pot holes with tarmac was a waste of time and resources. Residents, she added, who paid motor tax and had put up with diversions, were demanding some form of acceptable road surface.
‘Because the weather has been so bad and craters fill with water, you have strangers who drive at speed, especially coming from Kilbeg. In a matter of seconds you could burst a tyre or lose control so it’s also a hazard’
‘Brutal’ was how their 13 years old son Robert described the road. He said it was impossible to play, adding the worst section was towards Kilbeg where water lodged.
Further east, retired ESB worker Mick Kelly who has lived all his life in Watergate Street said: ‘I’ve never seen it so bad’.
‘We understand it has to be dug up, but would have loved to have seen the entire street done for the first part of the sewerage scheme when it was supposed to happen and would have put up with having to go around Innishannon for a bit longer for it to be fully reinstated so that we could all get on, but it didn’t reach this far. Instead, in the last few years, the road has been deteriorating and getting a lot worse with the bad weather.’
Calling for a reasonable surface in the short term, Mick added: ’it’s absolutely terrible outside our gate and impossible to keep your place clean when it’s raining and pot holes are splashing but I’m particularly concerned for the elderly people who are afraid to walk across the street for fear of falling’.
Last call was to the home of retired Garda Denis Aherne and his wife Marie, residents for the past 36 years, who said that in addition to the road getting progressively worse, the footpath was also breaking up and becoming dangerous.
‘Even in the good times, this street never got a good surface coating,’ said Denis and it was badly needed because a lot of the traffic was heavy trucks going in and out of the Brewery Food Centre and also agricultural machinery.
‘I push our grandchild in a buggy up and down Watergate Street every day and you have to swerve in and out of holes on the road and footpath. It’s like an assault course,’ said Marie.
The situation wasn’t helped, said Denis, especially in heavy rain, when water cascaded down the hill coming from Kilbeg as a result of the culvert opposite Gallagher’s sometimes getting blocked.
All residents I spoke to acknowledged the best efforts of council staff with very limited resources. They also expressed their pride at and congratulated Tim Lucey on becoming county manager and wished him well.
Town engineer Charlie McCarthy said efforts were made to patch the street and late last year, a hot mix repair was carried out at the junction with St Fintan’s Road. He pointed out that there was record rainfall in February when an epidemic of potholes would occur everywhere and over the past six years, funding for non national roads had reduced significantly.
Acknowledging that the surface of Watergate Street was poor, he said that it wouldn’t make sense to carry out significant and expensive resurfacing job until the sewerage scheme, which is due to re-commence later this year, was completed,. ‘We will only get one shot at getting it right but there will be ongoing maintenance within the resources available’.<
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