THE process of realigning arguably one of the most treacherous stretches of road in north Cork has taken a huge step forward following confirmation of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for lands under the N73 Annakisha realignment scheme.
For many years Cork county councillors have campaigned for safety measures to be put in place on the road, in particular at Annakisha Bridge, a notorious black-spot that has been the scene of numerous road traffic accidents over the years.
CPO’s for just over 11 hectares of land along the 3.5km of works planned for scheme were advertised last December.
Kieran McKeone, senior executive engineer with Cork County Council’s national roads office, said that 13 objections were subsequently lodged by local landowners with An Bord Pleanála. These related, in the main, to access issues.
Following a consultation process between their representatives and council officials the objections were withdrawn allowing chief executive Tim Lucey to sign off on the purchase orders without the need for an oral hearing.
Mr McKeone said the next step will be for the Council to issue what is known as a Notice to Treat to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) before funding is released for the CPOs and the multi-million realignment scheme.
He said the scheme would be comprised of three elements to straighten the dangerous curves and widen the road from Annakisha Church to approximately 1km beyond Annakisha Bridge on the Mallow side.
The work will include bypassing the bridge with a new stretch of roadway, similar to the project carried out on the old bridge on the N72 Mallow-Fermoy road near the Nano Nagle Centre.
Mr McKeone said a design for the scheme, which was passed through a Part 8 planning process in 2014, will need to be updated with some minor changes before work commences.
He said it was hoped that work on the scheme would commence next year, following the completion of works at nearby Clogher Cross, and would take between six and nine months to complete.
In the meantime, preliminary works and archaeological digs have been undertaken at a site opposite Annakisha Church, during which evidence of an old blacksmiths was discovered.
Mr McKeone said that diversion works would be put in place along the N73 during the works.
“It is most likely that traffic will be diverted along the N72 or through Doneraile. However, it is important to note that these diversions will be intermittent as the stages of the scheme develop and the road will not be closed for the entire duration of the scheme,” she said.
“Any diversions will be well advertised in advance of the commencement of works,” he added.
Mr McKeone said the scheme was essential to improve safety along the road.
“There have been a number of accidents at curves on this stretch of road over the years and its narrowness in places makes it impossible for heavy trucks to pass each other without one having to pull over,” he said.
“It is currently of insufficient standard for a national route and this scheme will address that.”
The accident black-spot at Annikisha Bridge on the N73 Mallow-Mitchelstown Road is to be bypassed under the scheme.