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Call for delays in roadworks to incur cash punishments

January 25th, 2019 10:05 PM

By Jackie Keogh

The roadworks on the N71 just north of Clonakilty are among many works currently underway. (Photo: Andrew Harris)

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CONTRACTORS should be forced to make some kind of ‘pay back’ for undue delays on road works.

That’s according to Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) who said future roadwork contracts should include penalty clauses.

‘Delays of six months, and more, is a serious misjudgement,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who pointed out that the delay in road works on the N71 from Leap to Dromillihy and from Lisselane to Gallanes on the outskirts of Clonakilty town have played havoc with commuting times.

‘How can there be such a misjudgement?’ asked the councillor, who said it wasn’t good enough to accept a Council official’s explanation that it is difficult to impose penalties given the confines of the Council’s procurement policy. 

Cllr O’Sullivan and Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the explanation simply wasn’t good enough to excuse the ongoing delays, which they claimed were caused by contractors taking on too much work elsewhere, or being over-stretched at the end of the year.

Cllr Carroll told the Council officials at a recent meeting of the Western Committee: ‘Leap is a place where I used to like to socialise, but I can’t stop there anymore.’

He said there is no doubt about the fact that everyone is delighted that the long over-due work is being done, but, equally, he said people are totally frustrated that it is taking so long.

There was also a deadly silence in the meeting room when Cllr Carroll asked if the recently announced €28m contract for the upgrade of the Skibbereen Regional Water Supply Scheme – which includes a new water storage reservoir for Leap – will mean that the roads will have to be dug up at some point in the future.

John Donegan, director of services for roads and transportation, said the Leap scheme – which started in April 2018 – was 80% complete and that the ‘substantial completion is expected by the end of January.’

As for the Lisselane to Gallanes scheme, which started in July 2018, Mr Donegan said the project – as per the revised programme – is 50% complete, and should be finalised in April or May.

Cllr Carroll said he was aware that some drainage works had added to delays with the scheme in Leap. But, he added: ‘The runway at Cork Airport would have been done faster.’

During the discussion on the region’s  quarterly  roads review, Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said: ‘There is a lot of very good work being done.’ But he appealed to the Council’s engineering department to consider improving the access to the Timoleague Rd at Old Chapel in Bandon because at present it is ‘a choke point.’

Cllr Aidan Lombard (FG) queried the kind of maintenance programme that will be needed to keep the new roundabout at Halfway looking good. 

He said the roundabout – with its geometric shapes, gabions and grass slopes – ‘looks like it is going to take a lot of maintenance.’

Meanwhile, Cllr Mary Hegarty said the N71 from Ballydehob to Bantry and beyond to Turner’s Rock on the Kenmare Road cannot – and should not – be ignored for much longer.

Cllr Paul Hayes said he too was appreciative of the many millions being spent in the West Cork Municipal District area but said the Council needed to heed the public’s disquiet about delays.

‘Whatever gains were made as a result of the bumper tourism season in 2018 have been eroded by the loss of business caused by traffic delays, stop-go traffic managements systems, and project over-runs,’ he claimed. 

He also complained that the R600 from Shannonvale on the Kinsale Rd is in very poor condition – so poor in fact that it is starting to resemble a track rather than a road.

The councillors acknowledged that funding for the general road repair grant has been halved since 2013 and that the local authority is largely reliant on Transport Infrastructure Ireland to maintain the region’s national routes, but they said a lot of the region’s secondary routes have – through neglect – fallen into a disgraceful condition.

Following complaints by Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) and Cllr Lombard, Mr Donegan acknowledged that the line of sight at Crossbarry Bridge is ‘very poor.’ But he gave an undertaking that when resurfacing works are being carried out in that area, in 2019, the Council would consider putting in place some traffic calming measures.

Mr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he would hold out hope for a better outcome and he urged the engineer to stand there for an hour in the morning or in the evening and view the volume of traffic. ‘It’s bumper to bumper,’ he said. 

In conclusion, Mr Donegan pointed out that the Ballydehob to Bantry roadworks are actually part of a three-year programme being developed by TII and that the work would be done over a three-year period but the programme has yet to be finalised.

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