The Belturbet bypass is projected to be at least one year late despite a budgeted cost to the tax-payer of almost €10 million a kilometre.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) confirmed to this paper that the deadline of February of this year for the much-needed €61 million project has now been pushed back to the first quarter of next year on a stretch of road measuring just 6.7 kilometres.
Client Cavan County Council and the NRA, signed the build contract with European construction giants Ferrovial and their local partners, quarrying and mining company PT McWilliams.
In March of 2011 Ferrovial announced on their website that the contract was worth €25 million and that they estimated work to be completed on the road and two bridges by February of this year. The council’s website says that work commenced on the project in May 2011.
Responding to a query from this paper, Cavan County Council replied:
“Works are continuing on the N3 Butlersbridge to Belturbet Road Improvement Scheme with a large proportion of the scheme now nearing completion.
“Despite the main contractor, Ferrovial Agroman PT McWilliams Joint Venture, experiencing some delays initially, the construction phase is now well-advanced.”
Frustrated motorists however are forced to stare down an apparently completed stretch of road, but the council says more work is needed before it can be opened.
“The section between Staghall Roundabout and Drumalure is the most advanced section with some fencing, drainage and accommodations works still outstanding,” said the spokesperson.
“This project includes two significant bridge structures in the middle of the scheme, one over River Erne where works are ongoing and the other, the Aghnaguig Bog Bridge, although behind schedule works at this structure are now progressing well.”
A National Roads Authority spokesperson described the delay as “significant”.
“Work is not completed and the contractor is behind for full completion, which is now the first quarter of 2014.
“It’s a significant delay and any contractual matters will be dealt with through formal processes,” said the spokesperson.
Additional requests for information were submitted but the council said, “We won’t be making any further comment to the previously issued statement.”
A spokesperson for Ferrovial responding to queries from this paper - one of which was if they had incurred any fines due to the delay - said “several issues” had delayed works.
“...we have experienced several issues which have imposed important delays to the project ‘N3-Butlersbridge to Belturbert Improvement Scheme’.
“Should you require further information I would recommend that you approach to Cavan County Council on this regard.”
In March this year County Council and NRA officials confirmed to The Anglo-Celt that “engineering challenges” had delayed the projcet. “There have been a number significant engineering challenges, which the contractor has had to face.
“We are in discussions with the contractors involved. There has been challenges in relation to this project but we are confident now that the new road will be open to the public by March, 2014.”In April councillors at the monthly meeting of Belturbet County Council explored the idea of partially opening the bypass.The request came after Town Manager Kevin O’Reilly said that the progression of several projects, such as a footpath from the town to a local nursing home, could only be considered once traffic had been diverted off the primary route.
Independent councillor Raymond Johnston raised the matter and Cllr Seamus Fitzpatrick said “right now 95% could be completed but was left idle”.
Cllr Fitzpatrick said the greatest failure in the project was not to build the bridge “over the moss” at the start.
“That road should be opened up with or without that bridge as it is to utilise the expenditure that has already been put into it. It was lunacy to look after moss and frogs before looking after this town. No wonder this country is destitute,” he said.