A LANDMARK high-level bridge over the environmentally sensitive Lee Valley is included in the preferred route for the first phase of Cork’s €500 million northern ring road.
Engineers from the National Roads Authority (NRA) will announce the preferred route corridor for the western section of the crucial highway project later today.
But the Irish Examiner has learned the shortest route which requires the least number of new structures has been selected.
The 300-metre wide corridor which runs from Ballincollig, west of the city, to Rathpeacon in the north, is a combination of two of the nine routes which were considered — the so-called “grey” and “purple” routes.
The grey section runs from the Poulavone Roundabout, north through rolling countryside between Kerrypike and Clogheen to join the main Cork to Mallow road. The purple section will then link the western section to the main Cork to Dublin Road.
The section affects the least number of houses and has the least noise and vibration impact on a lower number of existing dwellings, engineers said.
However, the grey section includes a vast landmark high-level bridge, between 35m and 40m high, running for several hundred metres across the Lee’s floodplain below Carrigrohane Castle.
It is likely to spark a controversy from local groups who have vowed to fight any such project. Residents living within the preferred corridor will be briefed by NRA officials this morning before the route goes on public display. In documents to be distributed today, engineers said the preferred route was selected for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is the shortest. They also said it:
Uses the existing Poulavone link, constructed as part of the Ballincollig bypass project.
Requires the minimum number of new structures.
Performed well under environmental studies.
Is the best option under cost benefit analysis.
Is one of the preferred options with regard to planning.
They said the use of high-level bridge structures has already been successfully used in Ireland, to cross the environmentally sensitive Boyne Valley.
“Preliminary designs indicate the required bridge would be 35 to 40 metres in height,” the documentation says.
“It is envisaged this new bridge crossing could form a landmark feature for Cork, similar to the Boyne Valley Crossing.”
Drawing and maps of the preferred route will be on display in the Kingsley Hotel from 2pm to 8pm today.