Offaly County Council says the work will represent the final piece in linking a new public realm with the greenway in Tullamore.

Tullamore Urban Greenway project moving forward

The "final piece" of a major Offaly County Council project linking Tullamore's street enhancement with the Grand Canal Greenway is moving ahead, as the local authority recently advertised for a contractor to carry out the construction work.

The ten-month project will see work in four separate areas of Tullamore and could start by the year end.

The local authority published its invitation for contractors to bid for the project on Friday last, August 4, and the contract is expected to be awarded to the successful bidder by the end of October.

Offaly County Council said the planned works represent “the final section of the Tullamore Public Realm Project,” and will involve “the completion of works on Columcille Street and Bury Quay to connect the town centre to the Grand Canal”.

Works on Convent View, Kilbride Park and Sragh, along the Grand Canal, will also “connect the completed greenway, east and west of Tullamore, into the town centre network,” the local authority said.

“The works will comprise the construction of the Grand Canal Greenway urban section through Tullamore from Convent View to Kilbeggan Bridge, Bury Quay and North Columcille Street, Kilbride to Cox’s Bridge (1km), and the 28th Lock to Sragh Bridge (1.6km).

“The works include widening of footpaths along the canal bank, undergrounding of cables and street enhancement, new paving and kerbs, road realignment, resurfacing and relining, traffic calming features, signage and lighting.”

The council listed one of the four areas where work will be carried out as the Columcille Street, Bury Quay and Kilbeggan Bridge area, noting that the work at Kilbeggan Bridge and Columcille Street “will require traffic management” by the contractor.

It stipulated, however, that no works will be permitted in this area during the month of December, in order to “ensure there is no disruption to Christmas shopping” for local retailers.

At Convent View, the planned work “will connect the east side greenway into Kilbeggan Bridge” and will include the removal of the existing canal railing and the widening of the shared footpath along this section of the canal “to 3m wide with a tarmacadam finish”.

Contractors working on the project “will be required to liaise closely with Waterways Ireland and comply with their requirements for working on the canal bank,” the council noted.

The council said the work at Kilbride Park, west of Bury Quay, will include “the widening of the existing path along the canal bank, grubbing up of existing surfaces, removal of 9-10 existing small trees and bushes,” and the construction of a new 4m wide path and new LED public lighting.

The fourth section of the work, at Sragh greenway, south side, will see “the laying of a new 3m wide tarmacadam surface along the south side of the canal, from Pearse Park to Sragh Bridge, a distance of 1.3 kilometres.”

The council said “some greenway gates are required” in this area, while “at Sragh Bridge the greenway crosses over the bridge and new macadam is to be provided on the bridge with the edge stone kerbing to the bridge to be capped with new lime mortar to protect the arch below.”

Contractors were told that precautions would need to be taken “to protect the existing bridge, which is a recorded protected structure in the Offaly County Development Plan”.

The four areas where the work is to be carried out are all “distinctly separated from each other in terms of access,” according to the council, which said “separate works compounds” will be required for each element of the work.

Risk assessments are also due to be carried out for each of the four areas “with the particular risk of drowning to be considered,” the council said.

Earlier this summer, local Independent councillor Sean O’Brien said a dozen mature trees along the banks of the canal at the Pearse Park housing estate “will not be removed” after a breakthrough was achieved in a row between residents and the council over the proposed route of the urban greenway.

However Cllr O’Brien said in late June that residents of the estate, and the adjoining areas of O’Molloy Street and Marian Place remained concerned about some other aspects of the planned work.