Dangerous Laois bridge ready to collapse

'Bridge over troubled water' won't be reopened for around two months

Ryan Dunne

Reporter:

Ryan Dunne

Email:

ryan@leinsterexpress.ie

County Hall, Portlaoise.Picture: Alf Harvey/hrphoto.ie

The bridge was discussed today at County Hall

A Portlaoise bridge closed off by the council due to safety concerns is on the verge of collapsing and can not be reopened for up to two months.

At today’s (Wednesday, October 16) meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley asked for an update on the bridge at Lower Bridge Street in Portlaoise.

She had previously raised the matter at the September meeting, saying that residents of the area had been “left in complete limbo” after the council closed the bridge leaving them with no access to the back lane behind their houses.

At today’s meeting, Laois County Council managing director, Mr Simon Walton confirmed that the bridge is not in council ownership, but the council had closed it in the interests of public safety. He said that an independent structural engineer had inspected the bridge and deemed it to be at strong risk of collapse. The engineer classified it as a category 5, meaning it is in danger of collapsing.

He said the council had acted appropriately and it would not be appropriate to open the bridge at this time. 

Mr Walton went on to say that the council was in discussion with contractors about carrying out repairs, with proposal including building over the existing bridge or propping it up. He said it would be seven or eight weeks before the bridge can be reopened.

Mr Walton also clarified the council’s powers in these matters, saying that the council has a duty to act if there is a danger to the public.

Cllr Dwane Stanley welcomed the news, saying that the only concerns had been that there appeared to be no long-term solution to the problem.

She asked the council to get it resolved by Christmas.

Quipped Cllr Noel Tuohy: “We could be calling it a bridge over troubled water.”