Caragh Bridge – November Update

Caragh Bridge over the River Liffey - Repairs will restrict HGV use of the bridge.

Caragh Bridge over the River Liffey – Repairs will restrict HGV use of the bridge.

The good news is that the end of the bridge repair works is finally in sight. Kildare County Council expect the contractors to complete on schedule and should be re-open within the next two weeks. An official re-open date will be announced as soon as possible.

The works have caused huge disruption to the village and to residents throughout the Caragh area, including of course, residents in Raheens, Yeomanstown and Thomastown who have seen a huge increase in the level of traffic travelling their road over the last three months. Last night I attended a meeting organised by residents living along the detour route where we discussed what’s happening. To keep as many people informed as possible, I’ve provide an update below focusing on three things:

  1. What’s happening at Caragh Bridge?
  2. What impact will these new measures have?
  3. What happens next?

  1. What’s happening at Caragh Bridge?

The repair works not only included repairing the parapet but a full examination of the bridge. Having surveyed the bridge, and submitted a plan to the Dept. of Heritage, the engineers have suggested that due to continuous wear and tear down through the years, the bridge arches are no longer structurally suited to carry heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). They have therefore recommended a weight restriction of 3.5tonnes be applied to the narrow bridge.

In order to counteract further damage to the bridge and risk another lengthy closure of the route, there are two further safety measures being taken. Kerbing will be placed at either end of the bridge on both sides. The kerbing will act as a physical restriction to HGVs and will necessitate other users to further reduce speed going over the bridge. As a further safety measure, traffic lights will be placed on either end of the bridge too.

  1. What impact will these new measures have?

Any new measure implemented will have a knock on effect. Some of the queries I’ve been asked are:

Impact on school buses and emergency vehicles

The weight restriction would prevent larger school buses from using the bridge but smaller buses such as 24 seaters will be able to access it.

Ambulances will have access to the bridge. Although a fire truck would fit within the new width restrictions it is in excess of the weight restriction. Having spoken to Kildare’s Chief Fire Officer, I’m glad to say that engineers are now looking to assess the potential of ad-hoc usage by fire trucks in the event of an emergency.

Impact on traffic on detour route (Thomastown)

Many HGVs will continue to use the diversion route through Thomastown. Signage is being used at Dagwelds cross to encourage HGVs to use alternative routes before they get to Caragh. I am also examining traffic measures indicated in the Drehid landfill application which may help reduce the volume of that traffic accessing minor local roads. To manage traffic at Jim Malone’s bridge, permanent traffic lights will be installed. Approximately 6,000 additional vehicles have been using this route since the main road closed with 5-10% of this being HGV traffic. Although the car volume will be substantially reduced the continued use of this route by HGVs is a serious concern.

  1. What happens next?

Last night’s meeting at the community centre brought many of the above issues to the fore. From that meeting a working group of residents from the area has been set up. This group will bring forward ideas and proposals on behalf of the residents to a meeting facilitated by local elected representatives with officials from Kildare County Council.

Throughout the bridge closure I’ve committed to keeping people informed and sharing any and all information I have. I continue to work with residents to ensure that safety is the number one priority and that everyone is kept up to date on developments.

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