Cobh remains a bottleneck with just one bridge at Belvelly

12 January 2021
By Elaine Murphy
elaine@TheCork.ie

Following yet another incident on Belvelly Bridge yesterday, causing delays and blocking access to Great Island and Cobh, Cork East TD Seán Sherlock called on the Minister for Transport and the local authority to speed up works on identifying options to improve access and safety for Cobh via the Fota road.

Deputy Sherlock said he has been raising this consistently in conjunction with Fellow Labour politician Cllr Cathal Rasmussen who lives in Cobh. Sherlock said this issue was here pre-COVID and needs resolution

“We simply cannot countenance that happening or an incident occurring on the island stopping emergency services again. The Minister and Local Authority need to speed things up.” he said.


Above: The scenic, yet singular, Belvelly bridge is a bottleneck. If there is a road accident. Another issue is seasonal road flooding which can render approaches impassible.

Tourists admire Cobh, as it was the last ‘port of call’ for the Titanic, and prior to that many Irish emigrants left from the picturesque old town. However, in 2021 motor traffic has only two ways on and off the Island; 1) The narrow ancient Belvelly Bridge or 2) the paid Cross-river car-ferry run by a private firm.

From the archives:

Dail Parliamentary Question

For Written Answer on: 15/09/2020
Question Number(s): 241 Question Reference(s): 24153/20
Department: Transport
Asked by: Sean Sherlock T.D. to Minister for Transport

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport the status of the Fota Road in Cobh, County Cork; and if funding will be allocated to upgrade same.

REPLY

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council’s own resources supplemented by State road grants.

The extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the post 2008 recession meant that grant funding for road improvement schemes had to be curtailed because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

The National Development Plan (NDP) does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but funding is not yet at the level needed for the adequate maintenance and renewal of regional and local roads. For this reason the primary focus for capital investment at present is the maintenance and renewal of the network and implementation of the 12 regional and local road projects identified for development, subject to necessary approvals, in the NDP.

Some limited provision is being made in the capital budget for the appraisal of a pipeline of upgrade projects. This is intended to cover the appraisal of projects for future development, if possible.

All proposed projects must now comply with the revised Public Spending Code published in December 2019. An important change to the Public Spending Code is the introduction of a requirement for a Strategic Assessment Report (SAR) for all projects with an estimated expenditure of €10 million or more. The SAR is now a key deliverable at the first decision stage in the project appraisal process.

The purpose of the Strategic Assessment Report is to examine the rationale for a proposed project and to ensure the strategic alignment of projects with Government policy, including the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan. The SAR is also an important step in the project lifecycle in that potential alternatives for an intervention are assessed and identified for further appraisal should the project progress to the Preliminary Business Case phase of the appraisal process. Once completed, a SAR needs approval from both the Department and the Department of Public Expenditure.

As regards the R624 Fota Road, there was some initial engagement between Cork County Council and my Department last year, including a meeting with the Department’s Strategic Research and Analysis Division regarding the project appraisal process. My Department understands that Cork County Council is now proposing to appoint consultants to carry out a transport study which will look at all options in relation to access to Cobh and Great Island.

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