An elderly woman was killed crossing Macroom's main street on Friday just an hour before its new bypass opened, removing 700 heavy goods vehicles from the town centre.
The tragic incident left the Cork town that has been waiting 20 years to be bypassed reeling and in shock.
"It's hard to know what to say really," one businessman said.
"We were all looking forward to this day for months, for years really. And we're all delighted the bypass is finally opened but all of our thoughts are with the family of the poor woman and the truck driver.
"It underlines one of the major needs for the bypass — to make the town centre safer for people."
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other dignitaries gathered on the new 8km bypass just north of the town for the official opening ceremony of the first element of a €280m 22km road upgrade between Macroom and Ballyvourney.
Mr Martin said the bypass would promote economic development in Cork and Kerry, would improve air quality in Macroom, and would also lead to significant road safety improvements.
He specifically mentioned how he had walked the streets with local Fianna Fáil TD Aindreas Moynihan, and had noted the danger posed by the heavy volume of trucks and cars on the town's narrow main street.
As the final preparations were being made to open the bypass to general traffic from around 2pm, emergency services were tasked just before 1pm to reports that a female pedestrian had been struck by an articulated truck as she crossed main street close to the Castle Hotel.
The woman, who was in her late 70s, lived in the Coppeen area and was well known in the town.
Gardaí, firefighters, paramedics, and a rapid response emergency medicine doctor rushed to the scene but the woman was pronounced dead a short time later.
Her remains were removed to Cork University Hospital where an autopsy will take place.
Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to the incident to contact them.
The main road was closed to facilitate a garda forensic collision investigation and the bypass was opened earlier than planned to cater for the diverted traffic.