Councillors and officials with Dundalk Town Council would like to see Hill Street Bridge removed, but the problem remains the same: where is the money to do the job going to come from.
Cllr Martin Bellew raised the matter once again at the council’s monthly meeting.
“We all know Hill Street is a bottleneck,” he said. “We were led to believe that the roundabout at the IDA park was to link up with the proposed development at Hill Street, but that should not have slowed the Hill Street project down.
“We should make it’s removal a major priority for 2014. We took away the bridge at Alphonsus Road.”
He was supported by Cllr Maria Doyle who agreed that the whole situation was becoming more and more a traffic issue.
She said the cycle lanes at Stapleton Place were supposed to connect with the cycle lanes at Lidl supermarket on the Avenue Road, but that is not possible as long as Hill Street Bridge remains.
So basically, the cycle lanes at Stapleton Place that cost so much financially, and caused so much grief to residents, are going absolutely nowhere.
However, Town engineer Catherine Duff did point out that there are plans to remove the bridge.
Funding had been sought through INTERREG - the EU capital investment programme - but all applications had been turned down.
She said the planning permission is in place, but because of the current economic climate, she had asked for a review of project so that a more prudent budget could be projected. When asked by Cllr Bellew if Tesco, who are building the new shopping centre next to the bridge, had made a development contribution towards the removal of the bridge, she said a development contribution was part of that planning permission.
Town clerk Frank Pentony also said funding was the problem.
The town council had looked for funding from the Dept for the Environment for five years in a row.
No funding had ever been made available when Dundalk had been designated a Gateway town.
In fact, no town in the country got any funding when that idea was rolled out some years ago.
He also pointed out that the council’s reserve funds could not be used for this project because they will transfer to the new county council to be established in May (see page 6).
Cllr Kevin Meenan also pointed out that the removal of the bridge is a major issue.
“This is one of the major entrances to Dundalk,” Cllr Meenan said.
“I think it will happen, it will be removed, and now is the time to do it.
“This is the best opportunity we will ever get,” he said.
The discussion arose from the written answer to Cllr Martin Bellew’s motion for an updated report on the current position regarding the removal of Hill Street Bridge.
The removal of Hill Street Bridge has been a topic for debate for the best part of 30 years.
But money is the problem.