Kilkenny County Council has sought direction from An Bord Pleanala regarding a proposed ring road extension to the north of the city.
The new 1.5-kilometre road is to connect the Castlecomer Road to the Freshford Road approximately 2.5 kilometres north of the city. It will include a 50-metre Clear Span single carriageway bridge traversing the River Nore.
The council is now seeking to establish whether or not a full Environmental Impact Statement will be required for the scheme, given the significant local ecological consequences it will have. Pending the board’s response, the council is hoping to begin the planning process in the second or third quarter of this year.
The cost of the road’s construction is estimated at €14.2 million, excluding design and land acquisition costs. Three different landowners will be affected by the scheme.
At a meeting last week for the Kilkenny Electoral Area, Clifton Scannell Emerson Associates Consultant Engineers issued the completed report on constraints and route selection. Eight different route options were considered, taking into account environmental impact, archaeological constraints, impact on local residents and cost effectiveness. Other considerations factored into the selection process include crossing Bleach Road, and obstacles such as the Weir View housing estate and Aut Even Hospital.
The selected route corridor will cross a Special Area of Conservation as well as a National Heritage Area. The engineer’s report found that the road will have ‘definite negative impacts on ecology’ in terms of habitat loss. The site also encompasses a floodplain of approximately 500 metres, which will necessitate the construction of a number of alleviation arch culverts under the new road.
In December of last year, An Bord Pleanala formally approved plans for Kilkenny’s Central Access Scheme (CAS), which will include a River Nore bridge in the city. While the CAS will account for traffic within the city, it is hoped that this northern extension will cater for traffic wishing to avoid the city, provide a distributor link road around the city, as well as improve connectivity for traffic crossing between M8 and M9 motorways.