Minister of State announces mammoth financial package for long-awaited Inishowen project
Fine Gael Minister of State Joe McHugh has today announced a €3 million funding package to build a long-awaited new bridge at Cockhill.
Donegal County Council has previously described the bridge as a ‘shovel-ready project’ and with the money now secured, it is expected to go out to tender in the coming months.
Locals had for many years warned that the existing narrow bridge was hazardous, from the standpoint of pedestrians while it was also a traffic bottleneck.
The new bridge will incorporate wide footpaths but it is also understood that the old one will be retained as an alternative route.
Deputy McHugh said he is delighted that a new structure has been given the go-ahead.
He said: “I am delighted to announce today that €3million funding has been secured for a new bridge at Cockhill, Buncrana. Following a meeting I organised for a deputation from Inishowen Municipal District to meet with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, a report was submitted to the Dept. and once a review was carried out, the Minister has agreed to support this project in full and provide funding.”
“Within the report submitted to the Dept., the plan outlined in detail provision for a new road bridge to be located south of the existing Cockhill Bridge as part of the outer relief road. This new bridge would become the main vehicular route for the R238. As the bridge would be built to current design standards there will no longer be turning issues.”
“The road will also have footways which would constitute a pedestrian route towards Buncrana. It is expected that once the new bridge is complete, the existing bridge would most likely become redundant for motor vehicles and could be used as a pedestrian/cycle route to access local amenities in Cockhill.”
The Fine Gael Junior Minister said the community’s concern surrounding safety was paramount.
“Cockhill Bridge has been a health and safety issue for local residents and those who have to use the bridge for more years than it ever should have been. The community and public representatives have been raising their concerns for years and I have been working with my colleague Minister Donohoe, and his predecessor, Minister Leo Varadkar, to highlight not only the public safety concerns but also the importance of this juncture for vehicles and the increased development of the surrounding areas. While these developments have been to the benefit of the local shop, school etc. there is no footpath at present and even an Garda Siochana have voiced concerns around the safety of the bridge.”
“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. This new bridge opens up North and North West Inishowen – where there have been major developments from a tourism perspective. With the development and success of the Wild Atlantic Way, this will lead to the connecting of Malin Head to Fanad Lighthouse, both of which have been selected as Signature Points along the route, and today’s announcement now becomes a significant investment for these areas as well.”
Deputy McHugh said he will now endeavour to begin the building process as soon as possible.
“I will continue to work closely with the Dept. and the Donegal County Council to help get this project moving now as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he added.