For a layperson, the scale of the New Ross bypass project is as dizzying as its bridge over the River Barrow is going to be high.
For starters, the scheme is 26 years in the making - from its humble beginnings in Kilkenny and Wexford County Development Plans in 1993 and 1994 for an additional river crossing around New Ross.
So to begin with, getting the project over the line took decades in terms of route selection, bridge options, an oral hearing, scheme approval, design, Compulsory Purchase Orders, tendering and all that an infrastructural development of this size entails.
Then there’s the task constructing 13.6km of dual carriageway which will boast Ireland’s longest bridge once it is completed.
A special strength concrete of 95 newtons is being made in Kilmacow especially for part of the bridge’s construction and it alone will hold 27,000 cubic metres of concrete by the time it’s finished.
To give you an idea as to how much that is, a standard lorry can carry between 8 and 10 cubic metres.
Last Friday, Pierre O’Loughlin, the TII’s Authority site representative, perhaps had the most apt description of the crossing when he said: “It’s a big bridge.”
Add to the mix 3D laser scanning and the discovery of an old ship wreck on the river bed close to the crossing, the building of a concrete pier in the middle of a river, making sure there’s a 36 metre shipping clearance for navigation into the Port of New Ross and you’ve got yourself a civil engineering challenge.
That leads to perhaps the most impressive component of the bypass project. There are approximately 300 people working directly on the scheme with a lot more working indirectly on the 40 month development which began in January of 2016.
The professionalism and expertise of those managing this project stood out during the site visit.
The €250 million N25 New Ross Bypass scheme commences at a roundabout junction with the existing N25 at Glenmore in south Kilkenny before crossing over the River Barrow on the 3 tower Extrados bridge extending for approximately 900 metres from Pink Rock in Kilkenny to Stokestown in Wexford and continuing until it ties in with the N30 at Corcoran’s Cross.
On the bridge itself there will be three pylons between 15m and approximately 25m high.
The roads scheme was first mooted almost three decades ago due to the route being wholly reliant on O’Hanrahan Bridge and significant traffic delays and reported injury collisions in and around New Ross.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s technical advisors from Mott McDonald and Commission Manager, Joe Shinkwin, gave an update to members of Kilkenny County Council and the local authority’s executive at the site office in Stokestown, Wexford.
Mr Shinkwin said the bridge design was chosen for “aesthetics, cost and programme to build” reasons.
He added: “It offered the best balance in terms of overall performance.”
Mr Shinkwin also quipped that because of the high ground at Pink Rock “we would be building a half a bridge”.
The public will get a chance to have its say on the naming of the new €90m crossing. It’s expected the public consultation period will last for a period of around six weeks.
Meanwhile, the overall scheme is due for completion in the second quarter of 2019. At the moment, site clearance works are 100% complete as well as the bridge bases and piers. Earthworks are currently 95% complete.