portlaoise motorists are set to face more disruptions, with the announcement that three stretches of road are to be dug up in the town to allow for replacement of old water mains, one of them being the Mountmellick Road, recently upgraded to the tune of nearly €1million.
The water department of Laois County Council only received funding after the roadworks had finished, meaning they have no choice but to rip up over a kilometre of the newly surfaced N80, from Portlaoise top square to the Ballyfin Road junction.
“It would have been preferential to put services in when the road was being surfaced, but the funding came afterwards, under the Water Investment Project, it was only approved this year. The other works were through the National Roads Authority,” explained Seamus Quinn, executive engineer with the council’s water services.
The council are to use trenchless technology on the Mountmellick Road, to minimise damage to the surface, and where there is no choice but to dig trenches, this will be done between wheel tracks.
The works will begin at the end of this year, starting with pipes in the worst condition, judged by age, leaks and pipe materials.
“Contract documents are being prepared, and we will probably see works on the ground by late December,” Mr Quinn said.
Earmarked for most urgent attention is the road from Fitpatrick’s Tyres via Ken Blacks, and back around to the Timahoe Road. Next is the Timahoe Road from JFL roundabout to the Portlaoise Retail Park roundabout, next the Mountmellick Road. Ballyroan is also in line for the pipe upgrade, from the reservoir to Glenbrook.
Local councillors were unhappy to be told the news at last Wednesday’s area meeting.
“We spent twenty years trying to get the Mountmellick Road upgraded, and you’re going to dig that up again? Only the other day the traffic lights were turned on. The different departments don’t seem to be working together,” said Cllr Willie Aird.