The culvert carries a small stream under Regional Roads R700, R488 via Lady’s Well Street, Pipe Street and Market Street.
Kilkenny County Council has been praised for securing almost €1m in funding to rehabilitate the Thomastown culvert and save road that was “at serious risk of collapsing”.
At a recent meeting of Kilkenny City Municipal District, Frank Stafford, senior executive engineer gave members a presentation on the proposed works.
A culvert is a man-made structure and is a tunnel that carries a stream or open drain under a road.
The Thomastown culvert is 257m in length. Surveys in 2015 and 2016 indicated “significant deterioration and concrete spalling” in the roof slab with some of the culvert reinforcement exposed.
The quality of the concrete was also reported to be very poor and “easily broken by hand”. Spalling happens when there is moisture in the concrete and forces the surface to effectively peel off.
The Council were able to use specialists to carry out an inspection after they received funding under the Non-National Bridge Rehabilitation Programme last year. The inspection found the culvert retained “significant structural capacity” and there were three options available.
The first option - a full replacement of the culvert roof slab - would cost €868,000 over a construction period of 30 weeks. It would have been “extremely detrimental economically and socially” to the town.
The second option had an estimated cost of €637,650 and would also have a negative impact on the town. It would involve concrete repairs and waterproofing of culvert roof slab.
The third option - which was the Council’s preferred option in their funding application under the Specific Improvement Grant Scheme - would cost the most at €897,480 and would see the concrete repaired and the installation of a structural liner. This option would minimise traffic disruption and would be carried out with minimum need for excavation works in the carriageway. However the works will be subject to a Section 50 application to the Office of Public Works under the Arterial Drainage Act.
Mr Stafford was praised by Council members for convincing the Government to give funding for the more expensive option but one which would have the least impact on the “fragile economy and social vibrancy of the town”. The construction period is expected to be in the third quarter of this year.
Director of Services Tim Butler said road closures for up to 30 weeks in Thomastown “had to be avoided” and acknowledged the work Mr Stafford and Council staff.
Mayor Michael Doyle said it now looks like only two weeks of traffic disruption.
Cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said: “There was a serious risk that this road was going to collapse. Closing for 30 weeks would have been a disaster. To get the (successful third option funding) application is a real plus.”