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All round disappointment over N71's €3m upgrade

October 4th, 2019 3:02 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The N71 roadworks outside Clonakilty last January. (Photo: Andrew Harris)

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A West Cork councillor has expressed his own ‘disappointment’ with Cork County Council’s expression of ‘disappointment’ over the ‘disappointing’ performance of a contractor employed to resurface the N71 Rosscarbery Derry Road at a cost of €3.04m.

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) was in fact angry – furious – with a written report from the Council’s engineering department, which outlined five reasons why the project – which commenced in November 2018 and was due to finish in May but didn’t finish until July – took so long.

Reading from the report, divisional manager Clodagh Henehan admitted that the bituminous macadam material that was laid in the binder layer ‘did not meet the required Transport Infrastructure Ireland specification.’

She said both the National Roads Office and the contractor carried out considerable testing and some of the material laid was deemed to be sub-standard and had to be replaced at a cost borne by the contractor.

The second fault, or failing, on the €3m roadworks, related to a pavement strengthening element. Here, the material used was found to be ‘below specification and had to be replaced’ by the contractor.

Furthermore, an overlay part of the pavements was found to have failed to meet the criteria in a number of locations and these, too, had to be replaced.

A fourth problem occurred where there was a number of oil spillages on the final road surface – a substance that came from the contractor’s own machinery – and these areas had to be planed off and replaced.

The fifth and final problem enumerated in the report related to additional works that had to be carried out to the footpath in front of the Celtic Ross Hotel.

The divisional manager noted that throughout the entire scheme, the National Roads Office had supervisory staff on site at all times to ensure TII requirements were met and ‘to push the contractor to produce a final product that is of high quality.’

She said the National Roads Office had engaged with the contractor and requested, on a number of occasions, that the scheme be progressed in a more efficient manner, but that ‘a significant amount of time had been spent correcting failures on the contractor’s part.’

Ms Henehan said: ‘The performance of the contractor on this contract was very disappointing and the National Roads Office has conveyed this to the contractor’.

But she pointed out that the contractor has ‘remedied all defects’ but there is ‘no allowance for penalties, only feedback.’

Cllr Joe Carroll struggled to keep his use of language parliamentary. He started out by saying: ‘This is extremely disappointing,’ but went on to suggest that ‘this group of people should not be entertained again.’

He said the delays on the Skibbereen to Clonakilty to Cork road were so bad that people have vowed to never use it again.

‘People were pulling their hair out. They saw the contractor tearing the works up again,’ said Cllr Carroll, who was red in the face and clearly very angry at the report.

He said: ‘I am not happy with this reply. This has to be questioned. The tourism season in Rosscarbery nearly died over this. And we have an obligation to the ratepayers.’

He added: ‘The contractor has to be interviewed. And if they are ever appointed again, I will protest.’

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