Councillors seek closure of bridge

Town Councillors have called for the closure of a section of road commonly used as a bypass for traffic travelling to and from the west.

Town Councillors have called for the closure of a section of road commonly used as a bypass for traffic travelling to and from the west.

On reading the contents of an email sent earlier this month by David Coppinger, Longford County Council senior executive engineer, to Town Clerk Dan Rooney, earlier this month, councillors reacted angrily at the possible health and safety issues

In his email, Mr Coppinger states, "It is not possible for the sludge lorries to to use the Strokestown Road entrance to Camp Road as there is an issue with the strength of the bridge over the Camlin River at Mullagh.

"A recent assessment of that bridge carried out on behalf of the NRA as part of the N5 bypass design works has identified a problem with this bridge and I believe they have recommended a weight limit of three tonnes be imposed on the bridge. Therefore we could not use as the access to the treatment works."

He adds that there is an additional issue with tricks being able to turn to enter the plant approaching from the railway bridge direction.

"We have little option to continue to use the Lisbrack access for now," said Mr Coppinger. He also said that using "speed cushions, as opposed to ramps would help to reduce the impact of the speed restriction measures on the trucks accessing the treatment plants, however that is a matter for the Town Council".

Cllr Peggy Nolan said the roads "are ripped out of it with the trucks. It was never meant to take that volume of traffic".

She said if the NRA's assessment of the bridge requiring a three-tonne restriction is accurate, "then we're in serious trouble".

"The lorries that are going out that road, not just to the plant, are way in excess of three tonnes. Therefore the bridge is going to be in serious danger of collapse and that's grossly unfair to people in the area. That bridge is now able to take that volume of traffic and it does pose a health hazard and we'll have it addressed with the County Council. I fear for the safety of cars on that bridge if the volume of traffic from trucks is not reduced."

Cllr Mae Sexton went a step further, and said if what Mr Coppinger was stating was true, "then we need to be closing that bridge and we need to do that immediately", which was supported by Cllr Paul Connell.

"Everybody who takes that road knows that you could count 50 trucks in any week going down there, and in fact some days you could see a line of them going down there," said Cllr Sexton.

"I'm surprised that when that came in (report), that somebody didn't decide to close that road immediately until that road was repaired," she added.

Cllr Michael Connellan said he was "shocked" to discover the contents of the email. He said the road should be closed immediately.

On further examination, Cllr Connellan queried why the council lorries (carrying the sludge) could not travel through Newtownforbes, and avoid the narrow bridge in question.

Cllr Alan Mitchell noted that Newcastle Bridge, near Ballymahon, was closed down, as was the bridge in Clondra. "There's a clear issue here," he said, before seeking more details from the NRA on the report they carried out.

"It is used as an effective bypass of Longford at the moment by a lot of lorries, and now we're on notice, if something happened we'd be asked ‘what did you do about it?'" said Cllr Mitchell.

He asked the Town Engineer, Brian McNeela to investigate it further and ascertain if it is a health and safety issue.