IT could be three years before phase 2 of the Southern Relief Road in Bandon progresses to even the planning permission stage.
That is the information FG Senator Tim Lombard received when he sought an update on the timelines and funding costs for works.
‘Phase 1 of the roadworks was completed nearly 30 years ago. At this stage it has been talked about for a generation,’ he said.
‘It is a major issue in terms of ensuring a town the size of Bandon can be fit for purpose. It is the biggest town in West Cork and all traffic for West Cork goes through it.
‘We have a bizarre situation in that all heavy vehicles must go through the town due to their inability to cope with the gradient of the previous bypass.
‘We have anything from 9,000 to 14,000 movements of traffic every day passing my office on South Main Street and the town has been smothered because of that.’
Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Sean Fleming, who was representing the Minister for Transport, said the proposed relief road extension would involve bridging over the R603 to remove the existing steep gradient and the construction of approximately 2.5km of a new single-lane carriageway.
‘The project assessment plan was approved by the department in 2020 and the work on the early planning and design will continue in 2021, with a preferred route for the bypass extension yet to be identified,’ said Deputy Fleming.
Because the project is in the early stage of planning, he said, it was not possible to provide an accurate estimate of the total costs of this stage.
‘Pending future funding availability, Cork County Council hopes to progress the scheme to planning permission stage in the coming years. It could be at least three years.’