Happy days: One for the road

    From left, Bishop Dermot Farrell, Mayor Michael Doyle, Minister John Paul Phelan, Council chair David Fitzgerald, Ms Colette Byrne, CE Kilkenny County Council and Michael Nolan, Chief Executive TII

    OUR CITY has a new look, safer and more practical peripheral road following brilliant realignment works on the N76 that links Clonmel via Callan, bypassed in the 1990s.

    THE N76 Realignment was officially opened by Minister John Paul Phelan.

    The improvement scheme extends from the N76 Callan Road Roundabout, on the Kilkenny Ring Road, southwards for 4.4km to the Brownstown Junction.

    On a sun-kissed day when temperatures soared into the mid-20s, local residents joined council officials, politicians and contractors for what we might call one for the road, a cuppa and biscuits or whatever, to mark the conclusion of a successful project.

    Local residents with Minister John Paul, David Fitzgerald and Michael Doyle

    On average this section of road carries 9,000 vehicles per day of which in excess of 800 are Heavy Goods Vehicles.

    Pre-works, this section of road varied significantly in nature and could be broken into two distinct elements, semi-urban and rural.

    The semi-urban section from Archersleas to Tennypark Cross varied in cross-section, had very limited pedestrian and cyclist facilities and no public lighting along a significant length of same.

    The rural section from Tennypark to Brownstown had a very narrow cross-section, a

    sub-standard geometric alignment, poor forward visibility with no overtaking, sub-standard junction layouts, and restricted visibility from private access points, all of which cumulated in a poor safety accident record along this section of the road.

    The improvement of this section of road has been a long term aim of Kilkenny County Council, and was a key objective in successive Development Plans since the 1980s.

    Statutory planning approval was obtained for this scheme, under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations, when it was approved by the Elected Members in 2007.

    Thereafter, the funding of the scheme represented the principal remaining challenge, particularly during the down-turn in the economy.

    Fortunately in 2012 Transport Infrastructure Ireland met that challenge which allowed for the publication of the Compulsory Purchase Order in 2014, subsequently confirmed in January 2015.

    The improved section of road extends for 4.4kms from the N76 Callan Road Roundabout, on the Kilkenny Ring Road, to a point just south of the Brownstown Junction where it connects into a previously improved section of road near the townland of Cuffsgrange.

    The scheme provides for the provision of on-line improvement works with footpaths/cycle-tracks and public lighting from the Ring Road to Tennypark Cross and an off-line road realignment between Tennypark Cross and Brownstown Junction.

    The scheme includes priority junctions incorporating central ghost islands, to provide for safer turning movements onto local roads, at the junctions at Tennypark and Brownstown.

    The Tennypark Cross junction was also reconfigured to a staggered crossroads to eliminate the risk of road-users driving straight through the junction whilst travelling along the local road network.

    The cross-section along the 1.6km realigned section of road consists of a 7.3m wide carriageway with 2.5m wide hard shoulders.

    This newly realigned section of road provides for improved safe overtaking manoeuvres along the route. The Scheme also provides for the following key components: a surface water drainage system, fencing, landscaping, road markings, signage, service diversions, accommodation works and the installation of sanitary service infrastructure for future use.

    All these features provide for a properly engineered and safer road which will improve the capacity and efficiency of the N76 thereby providing more reliable journey times.

    The contract to undertake the works was awarded to SIAC Construction Limited and works began in early 2017.

    The €9.5million funding for the project was provided by Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Pavement Improvement and Minor Works Programme.

    A significant number of landowners were affected with respect to the acquisition of lands. The council acknowledged the co-operation and patience during this period.

    The realigned road will improve the capacity, overall consistency and efficiency of the N76, providing more reliable journey times thereby enhancing the prospect for future local development.