Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Locals tell council to 'arise and go' with new bridge plan

It was a view that inspired a young WB Yeats to pen one of his most iconic poems.

Now Sligo Borough Council's plans to construct its own contemporary icon -- a bold, modern bridge across the Garavogue river which will drastically alter the mystical surroundings of the Isle of Innisfree on Lough Gill.

The famous poem begins with the immortal lines: "I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree".

The proposed eastern crossing of the Garavogue river is being bitterly opposed by hundreds of the town's most elderly residents whose tranquil view of the island and lake will be replaced by two walls of up to three metres high which are to flank a new two kilometre long carriageway.


And what is a relatively quiet road which runs along the river taking about 900 cars daily is projected to clock up 20,000 car journeys per day by 2021.

"There is the strongest sense of anger in this community, where the average age is 70," said Eugene McGloin, spokesman for the Garavogue, Doorly Park, Martin Savage Park and Hazelview residents.

He maintained there had been no consultation between the council and the local residents before the publication of the Environmental Impact Statement which is currently in circulation.

"Most of these people moved here as the original tenants of these in the 1950's when this part of town was still countryside and they worked hard all their lives so that they could buy out their houses.

"Now they are being asked to spend their later years behind these eight- to 10-feet-high walls with a major carriageway on their doorsteps," he said.

For Sligo Borough Council, the bridge is the next step in upgrading the infrastructure of the growing city which has already seen the opening of an inner relief road and the pedestrianisation of some of the main streets.

It says the proposed bridge would provide an eastern relief road, reducing traffic congestion, and establish a vital link for communities south of the river with Sligo General Hospital and the Institute of Technology.

However, Eugene McGloin disagrees, arguing that a visually stunning landscape will be irreparably damaged.

"We are not opposed to a river crossing. However this is the wrong place for it.

Anita Guidera
Irish Independent

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