LAOIS and Offaly county councils have agreed the route for a new 8 km ring road for Portarlington, the bill for which could run to nearly E20 million.
Confirmation of the route was revealed last week at a cross-border meeting of Edenderry and Port area councillors. Laois County Council's, Cathaoirleach, Cllr James Deegan outlined details of what he said would serve as a ring road and an inner relief road for Port.
He told the Leinster Express that the project would be a big development for the border town and would take some of the heavy traffic off the town's streets.
The Stradbally councillor said the route would link the Edenderry Road near Gracefield to Lea Road in the direction of Monasterevin. It is expected to have a number of roundabouts that will allow access for Portlaoise and motorway traffic.
A key part of the project will be building of a new E6 million bridge across the River Barrow. While the bridge has been costed, the road building has not. However, Cllr Deegan said it is expected that the road building will involve significant construction and design since it will run across low lying land around the river.
He estimated that the bill could run to €20million.
Cllr Deegan said the project would now move to the design stage before coming back to both county councils later this year for approval by councillors.
It is far from clear when work on the road will get underway. No money is confirmed for the project which would be funded jointly with public money via both local authorities.
While he had doubts over how the project would be paid for, Cllr Deegan said it was important to have decisions made and designs in place.
"We are hoping that if there is money were available we would at least have everything ready to go," he said.
Both councils would be applying to the Department of the Environment for funds to move ahead with the road. Apart from the cost, there are likely to be some issues relating to the building of the road around the barrow which is an area of conservation.
l The announcement of the project was revealed at a behind closed doors meeting of the Laois and Offaly councillors and officials. A request by the Leinster Express to attend was refused.