The flooding of the Tramore Road resurfaced this week with traffic having to be diverted in other directions. However, works to alleviate the perennial problem long-term are to start towards the end of the month.
After the almost incessant rainfall since Sunday, the St John’s River inevitably swelled and a vulnerable section of the main road between the city and Tramore was inundated by Wednesday night. City Council staff had signs out at the Outer Ring Road intersection at Ballindud early the next morning advising motorists accordingly.
Closures of what is one of the city and county’s busiest secondary roads have been a regular occurrence since the early 1960s due to deluges of water flowing into adjacent wetlands when extremely wet weather combines with high tides.
However, work on what’s hoped will be an adequate – if “not perfect” – solution is to finally ‘get off the ground’. Fergus Galvin, Director of Services Corporate Affairs and Transportation with Waterford City Council, told the ‘Munster Express’ yesterday that the scheme will commence with the next few weeks.
The money is in place, tenders have been finalised and all that’s left to resolve is the contractual fine print.
There won’t be a six-month shut-down of the road as originally envisaged, rather a ‘managed closure’, aimed at minimising traffic disruption. However, clearly motorists will be discommoded to a considerable extent for some time, not to mention residents in areas like Avondale and Kilcohan along the obvious alternative route, the old Tramore Road.
First announced in July of last year, the €2m project – funded by the Office of Public Works – will involve raising the surface by varying amounts of up to a metre between the Inner Ring Road (Superquinn) roundabout and the Green Road past Ballindud.
The scheme is designed to relieve, but not entirely eliminate the risk of flooding. The protection of the NHA-designated Kilbarry Bog – which is earmarked for a €4m 50-acre public park – is a limiting factor, as is the “astronomical” cost of a complete solution as previously put forward.
That prospect was scuttled by a cost-benefit analysis carried out by the OPW, which resulted in the exclusion of the Tramore Road from the John’s River Flood Relief Scheme – progress on which has come dropping slow since it was first announced nine years ago.
Bizarrely, number crunchers in the civil service calculated the ‘negative’ benefit of raising the heavily-trafficked Tramore Road at just €350,000 over a hundred-year period in return for an estimated outlay of €7m.
Full surface elevation works would have involved reconstructing (and raising by upwards of 1.5m) a 3km stretch of the road on the city side of Ballindud roundabout, together realigning several short sections of the river – something that a consultant’s report said would have compromised the integrity of the bogland.
The Council concedes, however, that even after the imminent scheme is finished chances are there will be an average of one unavoidable short closure each year. A “shocked” Tramore councillor Lola O’Sullivan said it would be a waste of money at that rate. Time will tell.