By Kieran O’Mahony and Jackie Keogh
THERE are no immediate plans to repair a number of roads which have been closed as a result of last month’s floods in West Cork.
Councillors were told this week that the County Council is still waiting for emergency funding from the Department of Environment, almost five weeks after torrential flood rain caused over €2.3m in damage to roads and bridges across the region, and in particular the roads on the Mizen and Sheep’s Head peninsulas.
Chief executive Tim Lucey told a meeting last Monday that the County Council cannot afford to repair damaged roads because they have not received the funding yet, despite requests made to the Department.
‘We spent €425,000 on clean-ups and emergency repairs but the capacity to go beyond that is severely limited, and I can’t say when works will be completed,’ said Mr Lucey.
Mr Lucey wrote to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport on September 21st ‘requesting funding in order to respond to these exceptional circumstances’ and the Council is still awaiting a response. Tom Stritch, director of services with the Council, said that a number of structures were badly damaged and will need to be replaced or require extensive remedial works.
He noted that a number of strategic roads are still closed – including a road linking Barleycove and Crookhaven, and also the R597 between Leap and Glandore.
Cllr Joe Carroll said the roads are at a ‘crisis level’ in West Cork and that engineers have their hands tied as they want to do the work, but they don’t have the funding.
Cllr Alan Coleman also said it was imperative that the funding comes soon and said ‘it’s quite clear that the county roads are the Cinderella of funding’.
Cllr Michael Collins said for some reason West Cork isn’t getting the funding needed for its roads network.
‘When are the two roads on the Mizen Peninsula going to open?’ asked Cllr Collins.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said there was an urgent need for funding for roads in West Cork as the closure of roads was dividing communities and people were travelling extra miles to get around.
Meanwhile, people living in Leap and Union Hall have reacted angrily to the Council’s decision to close a portion of the Leap to Glandore road.
A spokesperson for Cork County Council confirmed that a seafront fence was washed away during the bad weather of September 11th and that this caused a partial collapse of the road.
It was left open to vehicular traffic but the situation, according to the Council spokesperson, has deteriorated. And, following an inspection last Thursday, it was decided to close the road.
A businessman in Union Hall, Noel Fuller, said: ‘Obviously safety is an issue, but I am annoyed and frustrated by the fact that Cork County Council did not contact us to tell us what was happening.’
Another local, Averil Cooke, also spoke about the inconvenience of having the road at the Leap side of the Union Hall Bridge closed.
‘Now, if you want to go to Leap you can’t go over Poulgorm Bridge, you have to go up over Brade Hill, which means you are going in the wrong direction.’
‘It is incredibly inconvenient. It also means that people travelling from Union Hall to Rosscarbery have to turn right at the bridge and take the back road to Rosscarbery.’
A spokesperson for Cork County Council told The Southern Star: ‘The road was closed for safety reasons. It was an urgent road closure because the inspection on Thursday showed that the road surface was deteriorating.’
The spokesperson added: ‘The situation is being advertised and the Council has applied for funding to the Department of Transport to have the road repaired as soon as possible.’