A preferred route has emerged for a bypass of a bottlenecked Cork town, and the project will include a cycleway connection to its train station.
Details of the plans for the bypass of Mallow were provided to a meeting of Cork County Council's Northern Division by consultants Barry Transportation.
Five initial options have been whittled down to one, known as option C. It will run from a new junction close to Mallow General Hospital east to Ballyviniter Lower, and then swing south-east to Oliver's Cross, where it will connect with the N72 and N73 (Mallow-Fermoy and Mallow-Mitchelstown roads). There will be no other junctions on the route and some bridges will have to be constructed over local roads.
A walkway/cycleway will be provided alongside the bypass linking to existing local walkways. The consultants said this would terminate at the hospital, but a further link south to the railway station could be looked at.
However, a walkway/cycleway will also be created along a section of the old railway line from the eastern outskirts of the town into Beecher Street and will link to Mallow train station via a new bridge over the N20 (Cork- Limerick road).
Consultants said the detailed design would take about 12 months to complete and they would hope to be in a position to seek planning permission and issue compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) by the end of 2022, or early 2023.
They said the best-case scenario is for construction to get under way towards the end of 2025 with completion by 2027.
There will be a secondary statutory public consultation process on the project, which will be online and probably start within the next four to five weeks.
Consultants said this route was the best option in terms of cost-benefit, environment and engineering.
However, Fianna Fáil councillor Pat Hayes, who owns a business in the town, said he had some concerns about the preferred option. He maintained it was a little too far outside the town and this may deter people from using it. He asked if route B, which is closer to the town, might be a better option.
Consultants said they understood his concerns about route C, but are hopeful people will use it and it would free-up Mallow town centre. They added that route B would have required the compulsory acquisition of some houses and parts of gardens.
Mr Hayes, along with Fine Gael councillor Liam Madden, also highlighted that route C would have a large impact on dairy farms. The consultants acknowledged that three large dairy farms, in particular, would be impacted by the choice of this route.
They said they would contact the farmers and discuss the plans in more depth when the detailed designs were being finalised in order to mitigate impacts to them as much as they can.
Fianna Fáil councillor Gearóid Murphy said the importance of the bypass can't be overstated. He said the cycleways/walkways “will be a fantastic resource for local people.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Frank O'Flynn said the bypass would not only benefit Mallow but the entire economy of North Cork.
“This is a very positive move for Mallow,” Fianna Fáil councillor Ian Doyle said.
“It's a vital piece of infrastructure,” Fine Gael councillor Tony O'Shea added.