Letter to Local Papers May 15th 2019 – Ardee By-Pass

By Albert Byrne | May 15, 2019

A Chara,

Re: Ardee By-Pass

Progress which undermines social cohesion and cultural practises (not to mention local business) is not the kind of progress that addresses our social problems. We are all concerned with rising crime but social disharmony is a leading contributor. That is why I want to take a moment to explain to your readers why the present plans for the Ardee By-Pass need to be amended in a cost neutral but all-inclusive way.

As things stand the new bypass will result in a cul de sac on the Ardee side of the Churchtown Road with 2-way access via a ghost island on the Churchtown side while another cul de sac will appear on the bog road with 2-way access on the Ardee side via a ghost island for Ardee Precast Cement. We have many examples of ghost islands on the road to Carrickmacross where traffic is queded before turning off. Further on down where the new road crosses the Silverhill road, access will be on both sides. What local residents are asking for is a roundabout on the Churchtown road which will, as it stands, be level with the new road and an underpass on the bog road which will, as it stands, be below the new road and therefore an optimal solution. The cost for both these changes may in fact be less than the original plan with no further CPO required. The residents have proven this by taken the land area of the roundabout on the Ardee Carrickmacross road and showing that it in fact fits very easily into the current land purchase. A roundabout is the safest junction in the world.

If we are in agreement that the changes are cost neutral or indeed less costly than the current plan then let us examine what will happen if these changes are not implemented.

At present a school bus collects children on the Churchtown Road to bring them into Ardee. With the present plan they will be required to cross the new road to be collected on the opposite side. (A similar situation exists on the bog road.) This poses a health and safety risk. Every road death in Ireland costs the state 2.5 Million euro not to mention the social impact it brings. A roundabout will allow the bus to continue to pick up children while mimising risk to life. At present there are 1,200 road trips daily on the Churchtown road and another 800 on the bog road. An estimated 2,500 people will be affected including people who drive to Ardee every morning to take public transport to work. Clearly this will introduce extra hardship on an already stressful situation and that can only have a socially negative impact.

If none of the above matters then consider the economic cost. It is estimated that between the affected rural population of 2.5K residents and Ardee Coach Trim an annual 3.6M euros is fed into the local economy. How much of that will be lost if the more convenient location for shopping is Carrickmacross or Kingscourt?

I remember as a boy the joy of participating in the local 5 mile walk for charity along these roads and as an adult I sometimes enjoy the privilege of riding my bicycle down memory lane. Indeed my own mother walked these roads. This route is something very special and unique and is an important part of our heritage. Are we now seriously considering needlessly cutting off routes which have served and defined our community from time immemorial while denying ourselves and others the pleasures that they bring? Is this the way to build our tourism and social infrastructure? Is this the way to preserve the best of our traditions?

At present there is a section of the population which uses these quieter roads to go about their daily business at a pace that in these days is rare to find. The present plan will bring unnecessary stress into their lives. Is that how we serve all sections of our community?

If none of the above troubles you then please consider this. There are now 20 nesting curlews that have returned to the river Glybe area. With the rerouting of traffic onto the Silverhill road which is in appalling condition, as access will be cut off on the bog road, this endangered species will be subject to noise pollution for which they are supposedly protected under EU regulations. Eventually the road will have to be repaired regardless. What will that cost?

So one has to ask how wise are our planning regulations if by placing a straitjacket on a given project, despite the wisdom and economics of change, we are undermining our community, our tourism and our business. This is how social unrest grows.

Having spoken to the infrastructure department in Louth County Council I am reliably informed that Transport Infrastructure Ireland would look favourably on a second scheme to introduce these changes. However that does not make sense. If that is the case then the changes should be brought in now at less expense and less disruption. By the time a supplemental scheme has materialised (if at all) the impact could be hugely detrimental. However, this does show that there are no health and safety reasons not to make the changes and that therefore we are all agreed in principal they should go ahead.

I understand people are rightly scared the project may be put on hold. As it stands the work is due to start in September proper and I am assured by the senior engineer it’s a very robust scheme. There is plenty of time to resolve this at little or no risk. Let’s not repeat the planning mistakes of the past and undermine our heritage in the process. Let’s stand together and do the right thing for Ardee, for ourselves and for the surrounding communities.

Is mise le meas,

Albert Byrne
Independent Candidate for Mid-Louth

Comments are closed.

SSL Certificates