An aerial view of the project.

Work underway at Assan Bridge

Work began this week on enhancing road safety and addressing long-standing challenges at Assan Bridge.

Contractor Donnelly Civil Engineering moved on site last Monday, May 13, with a completion date earmarked some time in September 2024.

Marking a critical juncture intersecting the L3005 and the L3545, the current bridge configuration poses significant hurdles for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) navigating the narrow junction.

Such issues are compounded further by non-standard road widths, unfit for accommodating two-way traffic, and also by recurrent flooding at the site.

In response to the pressing concerns, Cavan County Council engaged the expertise of Malachy Walsh and Partners, a specialist bridge consultant, to explore viable solutions.

Following a meticulous assessment of alternatives, the consensus favoured the construction of a new two-way bridge alongside a proposed major realignment of existing roads and junctions.

The proposed development includes the provision of a new bridge structure (7.5m Clear Span and 8.5m overall width); the realignment of the L3545 (north of the existing bridge) to connect directly to the L3005; and the realignment of the river for 30 metres upstream of the bridge and installation of rock armour to protect the banks.

Concerns over the bridge, approximately 200 year old, were first raised back in 2021. Back then the much-needed renovation was delayed, in part, due to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s (IFI) concerns for the river’s wildlife. The quality of the river and surrounding vegetation’s suitability as a habitat for Atlantic salmon and brown trout were among the reasons given.

The planned structural intervention, local Fine Gael councillor Val Smith says, holds the promise of vastly improving local road safety, particularly at a notorious “pinch point” where numerous single-vehicle collisions against the parapet walls of the existing bridge have occurred.

“This is a project I’ve worked on for some time, with locals and council executives behind the scenes. There is significant commercial enterprise in the local area and that route vital to them and the rural community that resides there.”

Cllr Smith and his fellow elected members in the Bailieborough-Cootehill MD approved Part 8 planning back in March 2023.

Subsequently, a rigorous tender competition was conducted, with Donnelly Civil entrusted with bringing the project through to fruition.

A spokesperson for Cavan Councty Council confirmed: “A tender competition was undertaken at the end of 2023 for the scheme and the tender assessment stage was recently completed. Cavan County Council has now appointed Donnelly Civil Engineering to complete these works. It is planned to commence works on Monday, May 13, and they are programmed to be completed in September 2024.”