Protected Laois bridge held up for repairs may lose funding again

Historic Laois bridge waiting years for repairs may lose funding again

Poormans Bridge Abbeyleix.

A historic stone multi-arched bridge in Laois is in need of specialist repair, but it is the victim of its own importance and the importance of the river it spans.

Money is not the problem for the seven arch stone Poorman's Bridge in Abbeyleix, a Protected Structure dating back to the 18th century.  The bridge is on the River Nore, a Special Area of Conservation.

It has been granted €340,000 this year for repairs. Hundreds of thousands were set aside several times in previous years but had to be given to other projects over the lack of planning permission.

The repair cost is "significant" says Laois County Council because the work must comply with environmental constraints.

That money may again be given to other projects in the county this year, because planning permission is not yet granted by An Bord Pleanála.  The council sought that permission over three years ago in January 2018, and had to commission a costly Natura Impact Statement as part of that application.

Director of Services for Roads is Simon Walton.

"We have tenders but we don't yet have An Bord Pleanála's consent. If we have it by the end of September we can do the work this year. If not I will talk to the members (councillors) to reallocate the money," Mr Walton said at the July council meeting.

Laois County Council says it is on their list for many years. This year it got a Specific Improvement Grant from the Department of Transport of the €340,000 it will cost to fix it while complying with environmental laws.

"This bridge has been on Laois County Council's bridge list for many years awaiting final consents from An Bord Pleanála for works. A Specific Improvement Grant was applied for due to the significant cost of works arising from the requirements for the delivery of the works in compliance with the environmental constraints that are present on the site".

The council wants to repoint piers, arches, abutments and spandrel walls as necessary. Soft verges will be removed and  rubbing strips to be installed. Other work includes the installation of tie bars at the quarter points of all spans. Tree stumps are to be poisoned. 

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