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11 Aug 2022

Provisional timeline for the extension of Kilkenny ring road revealed

KILKENNY

The Castlecomer Road roundabout section of Kilkenny ring road

Elected members of Kilkenny County Council have been informed that it will be at least seven years before the Northern Ring Road extension in Kilkenny city is completed, if everything goes to plan.

The current plan for an extension from the Castlecomer Road Roundabout to the Freshford Road is currently at stage zero of a seven stage process.

Plans for this ring road extension had been drafted as far back as 2013 but they had to be shelved following a legal challenge.

The planning process now must begin all over again due to changes in planning policy since the previous proposal.

Dermot Donovan of Roadplan Consulting made a presentation to councillors at today’s full meeting of Kilkenny County Council to inform them of the latest developments.

“The work done on the scheme in the past will be helpful to us,” he told councillors, however he also acknowledged that the planning process must begin afresh.

At the present stage, stage zero, a strategic assessment report is being drafted and will be submitted to the Department of Transport in mid-to-late August.

“We will then have to redo the environmental surveys given the gap [since the 2013 plans], that’ll be two years, it will take a year to get response from An Bord Pleanála, we tender a year after that and construction will take about three years, so around seven years total,” he added.

Consultation will begin with affected landowners and the public in the later stages of the planning process, once the strategic assessment report is approved by the Department and detailed plans are drawn up.

Many councillors stressed the importance of public consultation to the fate of the project, including Cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere.

“Public disapproval of the CAS bridge led to €2.7 million worth of obstructions. We don’t want a repeat of that. Let’s get the whole county behind this,” he said.

Some of the benefits of the ring road extension outlined to councillors during the presentation included the reduction of traffic, HGVs and emissions in the city centre and improved response times for emergency vehicles to incidents.

More linked neighbourhoods, less noise pollution, an opportunity to expand active travel zones, an improved public realm and the further development of the Loughmacask area were also cited as benefits of the scheme.

Some councillors did raise concerns about certain aspects of the proposal and asked them to be taken into consideration.

Cllr Eugene McGuinness raised concerns about how the scheme will increase traffic on the northern section of the Freshford Road and Cllr Michael McCarthy raised concerns about more HGVs travelling through Freshford village.

Many councillors asked for plans to be drafted for the further development and expansion of the ring road as plans for this extension advance.

Director of Services at Kilkenny County Council, Tim Butler, addressed this point in his remarks back to councillors.

“This current proposal to link the Castlecomer Road and the Freshford Road will be the most expensive link,” he said. 

The extension measures approximately 1.5km and contains a substantial bridge over the River Nore.

“When we try to connect the Freshford Road to the Kilmanagh Road, that will most likely have to be covered under our own funding, not the Department of Transport,” he clarified.

 “You have to look at the context of how the ring road was developed. The first stage was in the 1980s as far as the Dublin Road, then in the 2000s as far as the Comer Road, so it’s important to get it right.”

The estimated cost of this proposed extension from the Castlecomer Road to the Freshford Road is between €30-40 million.

The Department of Transport will consider the scheme once they have received the strategic assessment report and only after that will it proceed to the next stage.

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