Portlaoise Town Councillors expressed their anger that the Mountmellick road may have to be dug up again to lay water pipes, just months after it was resurfaced.
Cllr Caroline Dwane tabled the motion at last week’s meeting of the Town Council, saying it was clear case of putting the cart before the horse.
“Last year the council got money from the NRA to upgrade the Mountmellick Road. It was great to see it and I have to acknowledge the good work that was done at the time, I have never seen the road lit up as well. But now there is money from the Department of Environment to upgrade the water system along the road.
“Why was this not done the other way around,” Cllr Dwane questioned.
“Could the Local Authority not hold back on the money and do it all at the one time.”
The Sinn Fein Councillor wanted to know how much excavation work was required to upgrade the water pipes along the road. She said she was disappointed that there was no money for three roundabouts along the Mountmellick Road, and asked if it would be possible to make money available and construct the roundabouts at the same time.
In reply to Cllr Dwane’s motion, Town Clerk, John Clarke said at a recent Portlaoise Area meeting, a presentation was provided regarding a water mains rehabilitation project planned for the area.
He told the councillors that he was in the process of obtaining this report and would forward it to the Town Council members.
“In addition, I am arranging a briefing with Senior Engineering staff in the council for all the elected members in the Portlaoise Area. I will confirm this date for the meeting in the near future,” he said.
Cllr Alan Hand said while it was heartening to see the work, it was paramount that the council achieve value for money.
“It’s heartening to see work taking place, but we cannot have a situation where there is duplication,” he said.
Cllr Hand said there was new technology which wouldn’t involve as much disruption, but he was unsure how successful it was.
“It’s distressing to see money being spent on duplications,” he added.
Clr Catherine Fitzgerald said the issue had also been discussed at the area meeting and every councillor was annoyed over it.
“I’m looking forward to that briefing, hopefully we can talk about the Clonad Water Supply on that day too. The sooner the better it happens,” she said.
While, Cllr Willie Aird said that councillors were going to take a huge amount of convincing.
“If the council are going to excavate the Mountmellick Road, then there should be a public meeting for the people who use that road. We were 20 years trying to get that road done and now a year later they are talking about digging it up again. There are no words to explain this to the general public.”
Cllr Aird recalled a similar incident on Fr Brown Avenue years ago.
“The engineers went out to the site and a decision was made there and then to stop the work and put down ducting, this ensured that any work which had to be done, the wires could be pushed through. We should have followed this example all along.
“If people see a digger on that road in the next five years there will be uproar,” he said.
Local engineer, Tom O’Carroll said the council had some flexibility on which schemes could be prioritised.
But he issued a warning to the councillors: “If there is a burst pipe in the morning, there will have to be an excavation. Would you rather the job was done once or that we had to go in every time there was a leak.”
But Cllr Fitzgerald said there was a lot of bursts and leaks along the road already.
“There’s no joined up thinking, if you had a burst pipe under the floors in your house, the first thing you would do is replace the pipes and then lay your flooring, but the council have done it the opposite way.”
Concluding, Cllr Dwane said that it was a lack of communication between two departments, but she said it would not make sense to the general public.
“This doesn’t make sense to the public, they will look at it as the stupidity of the council.”