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No ‘quick fix’ for sunken, closed bridge

April 7th, 2021 11:55 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The bridge in Ahiohill has been closed with diversions in place. The Council engineer says it has 'sunk'. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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A BRIDGE at Ahiohill which has sunk and suffered extensive structural damage following stormy weather last month will not be a ‘quick and immediate fix,’ a meeting heard last week.

The Abhainn Caoch bridge and adjoining road at Willsgrove, just outside the village, have been closed since the incident causing huge inconvenience for locals.

At an online meeting of Bandon Kinsale Municipal District last week, senior executive engineer Charlie McCarthy told councillors that the bridge suffered ‘significant structural damage’ following the heavy rain on March 10th last.

‘It really seems to have sunk and it’s not a quick and immediate fix. We’ve had a design team looking at it  and we are trying to move on it as fast as we can but the road won’t be opening next week,’ said Mr McCarthy.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) paid tribute to Council personnel who attended the scene on the night of the flooding and closed the bridge to alleviate the risk of an accident happening.

‘It is precarious and the road is still closed and it’s causing a lot of disruption to the local community. There was a one-way system going to school and now that can’t be implemented due to the road damage,’ said Cllr Coughlan.

‘I would like some timeline for its repair and reopening as it’s important for the people of Ahiohill. Maybe if we can prioritise this as it’s very important,’ she added

A Council spokesperson told The Southern Star that the road remains closed with diversions put in place.

‘An assessment of schedules and costs for repair is being developed,’ they added.

The bridge over the Abhainn Caoch has provided a critical access point for residents, farmers and the school community since 1950.

The closure of the road due to the structural damage of the bridge has proved a significant disruption to the community.

Deirdre O’Regan, secretary of the Ahiohill Tidy Towns group, said this week that school traffic attending Ahiohill National School has been particularly inconvenienced, as the school bus, along with all of the parents and guardians now have to turn at the school and reroute. ‘Similarly, the farming community have to take long detours on roads that aren’t fit for the volume of traffic they are now subjected to,’ she explained, adding: ‘Our sincere gratitude must go to Cork County Council personnel who attended and safely closed the road so efficiently on the night of the bridge fracture.’

She said it was the Tidy Towns’ understanding that the roadworks will take a significant amount of time to be completed. ‘We await more information from Cork County Council on the exact timeframe involved,’ she told The Southern Star.

Ahiohill NS principal Lorraine Coomey said the closure is of huge inconvenience to the school, as well as the entire local community.

‘In response to the changes needed to be made due to Covid-19, the school has been operating a one-way system which involved most parents using the bridge twice a day. This has proven to be highly effective and has ensured safety for all children getting to and from school,’ said Ms Coomey.

‘However, with the closure of the bridge, all school traffic, including the school bus and children, cycling to and from school have only one road to use in both directions. This is hugely challenging for the whole community. It is vital that the works on Willsgrove Bridge commence as soon as possible for the benefit of the whole school community.’

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