“An overwhelmingly positive step forward” was the general consensus from members of the public and Kilkenny County Council alike, at a meeting held last week in Ballyragget regarding the proposed realigment of the Ballynaslee Road.
Representatives from the council met local landowners and residents in Canon Malone Hall last Thursday to discuss with them the details of the expected project, and answer any questions that locals might have. Around 30 people showed up throughout the afternoon to see the maps and projections on display.
“The purpose of this meeting is to outline how we will advance the detail design of the scheme,” explained Kilkenny County Council senior engineer Simon Walton.
“We anticipate that by the end of this year, the detail design would be complete. There has been a very positive response from landowners, and if that remains the case, the construction period would be a further eight months if the funding was secured.”
There are around 20 residences directly along the two-kilometre route and ten different landowners will be affected, with the council having to acquire a portion of land for each of them. The landowners have expressed a willingness to work with the council and progress the scheme as quickly as possible.
Locals have been campaigning for improvement works or a realignment of the dangerous stretch of road for decades.
“When I first came to the council, Jack Murphy was fighting for this,” said Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh.
“The feedback is now very good. The two council officials said they have never met a more co-operative group [of landowners and affected residents].”
An environmental impact assessment of the scheme must now be undertaken as part of the detail design, which remains provisional pending an allocation of funding from the Minister for the Environment. The council is also hopeful that the scheme will be able to progress without having to resort to any Compulsory Purchase Orders.
“We would ideally want to acquire the land by way of negotiation,” said Simon Walton.
Cllr Maurice Shorthall has said that the road is the “number one priority in the north of the county” at present.
“All in all, this is a very positive step forward,” he said following the meeting.