Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from their homes and the town centre closed for several days following the unprecedented flooding.
Some work to help alleviate or prevent future flooding has already been completed. However, the Bank Place to Doora Bridge phase, which will commence next month, is the largest element of the project to date.
The bridge at Bank Place had to be closed to traffic after long cracks began to appear in the structure while there were serious fears for the integrity of a river wall at Ennis Garda Station, where the car park was flooded for the first time in living memory.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (OPW) Brian Hayes signed the contracts in Ennis yesterday. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete and will provide protection for 849 residential and 425 non-residential properties when completed next year.
Mr Hayes said: “The disruption is regrettable but people can see the positive effects of works carried out in 2010. Also, given the fact that capital construction is at a minimum at the moment with the downturn in the economy, this project is also going to lead to jobs in the area which is important.”
Mayor of Ennis Cllr Peter Considine said: “This development comes as a major boost to residents and businesses located along the banks of the River Fergus, particularly those badly affected by severe flooding in Nov 2009.
“We have already witnessed the benefits of flood defence works in the Abbey Street Carpark and I look forward to other parts of the town and its environs benefiting from the scheme.”
Last month, Ennis Town Council signed a contract for flood relief works in the Watery Road/Elm Park area of the town. During the flooding of 2009, Civil Defence personnel had to use boats to reach stranded residents, many of whom had to leave their homes for several months. More than 100 people were put up in local hotels in the immediate aftermath of the flooding.
Elsewhere, Ennis Town Council says it expects the tender documents for the proposed Fior Uisce Estate Scheme will be completed and forwarded to the OPW in the coming weeks. Residents of the estate were also forced out of their homes following the 2009 floods.