The Realignment of the N26 at Cloongullane Bridge Project was officially opened by Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton, on Thursday, 13 October 2022.
The scheme includes 1.8km of Type 2 single carriageway road, an 83-metre, clear span, steel composite bridge over the River Moy, two new culverts over tributaries of the river, local road realignments and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists along sections of the pre-existing road and the realigned N26 road.
The new infrastructure will improve safety, reduce journey times, improve journey time reliability and connectivity and promote sustainable industrial, economic and tourism development in the region.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Naughton, expressed her pleasure at seeing the completion of the long-awaited scheme, saying: "I congratulate everyone involved in bringing this critical project from concept to delivery. Getting the scheme through the various stages from design to planning, construction and completion took a lot of work, and it is very positive to see the project come to fruition.”
Councillor Seamus Weir, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, echoed her sentiments, saying: “The bridge is a magnificent feat of engineering. This project will make a significant difference to the wider community and all road users of the N26, which services a wide catchment area.”
ROD-Aecom was engaged by Mayo County Council to provide engineering and environmental services for the project in 2015. Developing a bridge solution that minimised impacts on the sensitive River Moy SAC presented a significant challenge for the project team, led by ROD Managing Director, Jim Thorpe. Early engagement with the National Parks & Wildlife Service and Inland Fisheries Ireland helped identify the best solutions for the watercourse crossings. Ecological and environmental surveys were also undertaken.
In November 2016, a planning application, Natura Impact Statement (NIS) and Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) were submitted to An Bord Pleanála (ABP). An Oral Hearing was held in March 2017 and, following the submission of further information, the scheme was approved in December 2018.
Advanced works, including tree felling, fencing, archaeological excavations and testing and services diversions, got underway in 2019. ROD provided ecological monitoring and support services for these activities.
ROD Technical Director, Edward Warren, expressed his thanks to the project team in the Mayo County Council’s National Roads Office (NRO) for their support, saying: “The commitment and collaborative approach demonstrated by Senior Engineer, Paul Hyland, Senior Executive Engineer, Pat Staunton, and their colleagues in the NRO proved critical to the project’s successful delivery.”