Contractors have fenced off almost half the entire route of a long-awaited €160m bypass of one of Cork’s worst bottlenecks.
Ground investigation works and archaeological digs have also started along sections of the proposed N22 Macroom to Ballyvourney bypass project.
The works are being carried out as part of a €13m programme of advance works in anticipation of future funding being sanctioned for the construction of the bypass.
The boundary fencing, which is being erected by Wills Brothers Limited from Mayo, is almost 50% complete and is on course to be finished before the end of the year.
Ground investigation works are under way , with soft ground conditions alternating with extremely hard rock outcrops throughout the bypass corridor.
This work is being carried out by Priority Geotechnical Limited from Midleton, Co Cork, and includes the drilling of boreholes in Coolcower Reservoir at the eastern end of the proposed road scheme, where a section of the bypass will be built over a small, reclaimed section of the lake, which supplies most of Cork’s drinking water. These works are on course to be finished before the end of this year.
Archaeologists have begun digging several trial trenches to identify any items of archaeological interest along the route — working from the western end of the scheme.
This work will continue after completion of the fencing contract and is due to be completed by the first quarter of next year.
Engineers hope to start work soon on a diversion of high-power 110KV overhead power lines at the western end of the scheme.
Once the bypass funding is sanctioned, everything will be in place for the construction tender to be advertised, a process which could take up to nine months.
A spokesperson for the project said they hope that by completing the advance works over the coming months, the way will be cleared for the successful contractor to begin work immediately on a cleared and fully prepared route corridor.
The proposed N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom bypass will run from Coolcower roundabout on the Cork side of Macroom and take traffic north of the town, continuing westwards to close to the county bounds west of Ballyvourney. It will include about 22km of dual carriageway and over 20 bridges.
While funding was allocated as part of a €6bn investment in the road network under the government’s €42bn capital investment plan 2016-21, the project was one of several major road schemes which were placed on the backburner while Transport Infrastructure Ireland prioritised other major projects, such as the Dunkettle interchange in Cork and the N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy road upgrade.
It is hoped that the funding for the N22 upgrade will be ringfenced following the Government’s review of capital spending, which is due to be announced before the budget.
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