Christmas roadworks in Borrisokane cause "outrage"

Thursday, 28 December 2017

A SERIES of roadworks in Borrisokane during the week leading up to Christmas caused "outrage" among locals and retailers. 
The councillors of Nenagh Municipal District told the Council Executive during their meeting last week that the roadworks should never have taken place during such a busy week and it was wrong that no one was notified it was going to happen. 
Borrisokane will see a €3 million, long overdue, road upgrading project take place next year. Last week a Council-employed contractor arrived in the town and dug slit trenches at ten spots on the main street with the aim of carrying out essential exploratory work in advance of next year's project. 
Cllr Joe Hannigan told the meeting it was wrong that no one was informed beforehand and it was a shock for people to see this slit trenching work taking place during the busiest retail week of the year. "They were outraged by this and we got a lot of phonecalls."
The councillor said the town's main street has been in a very poor condition for years now and the locals have been extremely patient. "The look of that street is not just important for the town, but also for its hinterland. It's demoralising for people to see it in its current condition. The locals would like to know exactly when the €3 million project will start."
Marcus O'Connor, Director of Services, told the meeting that tender documents are currently being prepared and it is expected to go to tender at the end of February or beginning of March. "It will probably be April before we have a contractor appointed."
Cllr Michael O'Meara said he was disappointed to hear it wasn't going to start sooner. "The way things are going it might be the summer before work finally starts and we know that the work, because it's such a big project, will take at least a year. I get the feeling that the executive is dragging its heels on this a bit. People are talking about this for so long. It has been a problem for years. It needs to be expedited quicker."
Cllr Hannigan agreed with Cllr O'Meara. He said he couldn't believe that it will take so long to prepare the tender documentation. "We were told it would start in the first quarter of 2018 and now we are being told it will be the summer. Whoever is letting the ball fall here needs to pick it up. The local community are at the end of their tether with this. They are very vexed about it, and rightly so. It is depressing for them to put up with this."
"Every time we councillors go into Borrisokane," commented Cllr Ger Darcy, "we are asked about this. They are very frustrated and annoyed about the situation."
 Mr O'Connor pointed out that the tender documentation stage is not "a simple job. It is a big job which takes a lot of work. It is the main job at the moment for a number of members of our staff. It is very easy to say it should be done quickly, but people don't know what they are talking about. They don't realise how much is involved in preparing for a big project like this. We believe the work will start in April, perhaps the end of March, and it will take a year to do but it is a big undertaking. Initially it was a €1.8 million project upgrading Main Street. Now it has grown to a €3 million project and is upgrading the culvert area and Birr Road as well. It should be pointed out as well that this project was hugely delayed by the fact that so many objections were submitted during the Part 8 process which meant that we had to go through two Part 8s. We in the executive have invested a lot of time and effort in this. Council officials wore out a lot of shoe leather visiting the town and talking to the locals and to retailers.
"There is also no point me saying the roadworks will take less than a year, because in nearly all cases it doesn't."
Cllr O'Meara said the Council officials Mr O'Connor referred to "did a lot of good work allaying people's fears. But I would ask you to not go for the lowest priced contractor. Please go for a decent contractor. The fellows who did the water works were good."
Mr O'Connor replied that there is a strict governmental protocol for the awarding of contracts and he couldn't divert from that protocol.


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