BYPASS: Cllr Kelleher, who has since been elected Mayor of Kerry, pictured earlier this year at the Lewis Road Junction. Photo: Michelle Crean
By Sean Moriarty
Newly elected municipal councillors for Killarney have vowed to keep the pressure on central Government in an effort to get the much needed northern relief road into construction phase – which could take up to seven or more years to complete.
Back in 2004, the new bypass was given a 2009 completion date, but following the economic crash the project was put on the long-finger.
Town officials promised to keep the pressure on Government ministers in an effort to get this and southern/eastern relief roads into the land acquisition and construction phase.
Councillors met on Monday to discuss the current plan to re-align the inner relief road with the Lewis Road and Kilcummin Road junctions. Council officials voted to go ahead with the traffic calming and road re-alignment plans at these locations but overruled a proposed pedestrian tunnel linking the Bridgefield Estate to the northern side of the current bypass road.
Newly elected Mayor of Kerry, Niall Kelleher, has been a long-time campaigner for realignment on the road.
Following the death of cyclist Annette Mannix in May 2017 he arranged the deputation to Dublin and has long campaigned for works to be undertaken. He has been supported by a host of local councillors and TDs.
Over 5,000 people signed the petition that was presented to Transport Infrastructure Ireland.
“I am delighted we are in this position and that planning permission had been granted by the elected members,” Cllr Kelleher told the Killarney Advertiser. “This is the first step in changing the traffic movement in Killarney. There is no doubt that the petition put pressure on the Government to act.”
Mr Kelleher added that there are also plans to build a new road that would take traffic from the bypass to Lower Park Road, but this is only in the pre-planning stages.”
Speaking after the meeting, newly elected Killarney Cathaoirleach, Michael Gleeson, confirmed that the Lewis Road project was given the green light but attention will now turn to getting the outer relief road project off the ground.
“The works on the inner relief roads are to be welcomed, but the real problem is that 30 percent of the traffic, especially at weekends or during the tourist season are not using this road to access Killarney but are going on elsewhere,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “The real good news is that the outer relief is back on the Government’s priority list and we promise to keep the pressure on our elected Oireachtas colleagues to keep it there.”
However, the project could take another seven years before it would be open to traffic, aside from design consultations and other public forums, there would be a need for the purchase of lands to allow construction of the new road.
“I won’t be resting on my laurels,” added Cllr Kelleher. “Over 18,000 vehicles use the bypass every day and we will be doing everything we can to put the new relief road further up the agenda.”
Two new roads are in the pipeline, the proposals include one that would take traffic from the Lissivigeen roundabout to the Tralee Road and another linking the same junction with Muckross Road.