€200k Mall bridge shelved in favour of canal path

Government plans to spend up to €200,000 and create several jobs through the building of a pedestrian bridge and boardwalk close to Longford town’s Mall Sports Complex have been shelved, the Leader can reveal.

Government plans to spend up to €200,000 and create several jobs through the building of a pedestrian bridge and boardwalk close to Longford town’s Mall Sports Complex have been shelved, the Leader can reveal.

Part of a €4m jobs package, the project was one of nineteen transport and tourist based schemes given the go ahead by Minister of State Alan Kelly in July.

The proposal provided for the introduction of a pedestrian bridge and boardwalk to improve access to a “recreational walking route and a Sports and Leisure Complex” in a bid to kick-start the local economy.

The website also claimed that for every €100,000 spent “12 or 13 jobs” would be created, meaning the prospect of around 26 jobs coming on stream in County Longford.

This week, however, Longford Town Clerk Dan Rooney revealed the project had fallen foul of time constraints as all ventures selected for approval had to be completed before the end of December.

“The Department of Transport asked for projects to be completed by the end of December. In the initial correspondence they identified we could get three tenders for the job which we accepted and made applications on that basis. But when we got acceptance of a grant offer it showed up that normal procurement procederes must be followed,” he said.

Mr Rooney said the nature of the scheme, allied to instructions sent down from central government, had all but ruled out any hopes construction works could be completed by the end of the year.

“As it (project) was over a certain threshold we (council) would have had to put it out on e-tenders and the whole the whole thing would have taken nine months which would have been impossible,” he said, adding that the council had, nonetheless, received €140,000 to carry out other works in the Longford town area.

A spokesperson from the Department of Transport denied that they were to blame for the project’s withdrawal.

“The suggestion that the Department somehow altered its approach in relation to the need for the Council to comply with procurement procedures is entirely inaccurate. It is not, nor has it ever been, open to the Department to enable a local authority deviate from legal requirements that apply to them.

“The Longford boardwalk proposal was withdrawn by the Council due to time constraints. On 17 August however, the Department approved an alternative submitted by the Council (a €140,000 project to upgrade pedestrian and cycle facilities along the Royal Canal towpath to facilitate access to the town centre) which the Council consider can be delivered in accordance with the conditions of the scheme.”