THE £500,000 work on the Johnston Bridges in Enniskillen, starting next week, could result in major traffic congestion for two months. Work will start on Monday, June 22 on the bridge strengthening scheme after a Transport NI assessment of the structures determined they no longer met present day loading requirements.
The extensive improvements will entail removal of the bridge surfacing on both bridges, application of a new waterproofing layer and relaying of kerbs and new surfacing. The footway on the eastern side of the bridges will be widened to facilitate a cycle path.
The works mean the bridge will be closed to South and West bound traffic , with through traffic to be diverted at the A32 Cherrymount Roundabout, via A32 Irvinestown Road, A32 Forthill Street, Gaol Square, A4 Friths Pass and A4 Wellington Road. Northbound traffic, away from the town, on Cornagrade Road will be unaffected. Pedestrian access will be maintained all times, while the Cornagrade Road will remain open to local traffic in both directions at all times between Cherrymount Roundabout and the Northern end of Johnstons Bridge North.
The extensive works could mean lengthy delays in the mornings with traffic that normally flows along the Cornagrade Road likely to be dispersed onto the Irvinestown and Tempo Road.
DUP Enniskillen councillor Keith Elliott recognised that the work needs to be done, but foresaw “major traffic congestion” in the coming months.
“I suppose the timing is to coincide with the schools finishing, so there will be a reduction in traffic, but we all know what the traffic is like around Enniskillen at the best of times. I think we’re just going to have to grit our teeth and live with it for a few months.”
“There’s funding available for it, which is a good thing and in the circumstances that we’re in we have to take the work while we’re getting it . Hopefully people make use of alternative routes into the town, but the next couple of weeks will tell the tale.”
The first phase of work will begin on Monday June 22 at Johnston Bridge North (near the former Erne Hospital site) and the lane closure is expected to continue until the end of August.
Following the completion of work at the north bridge, consideration will be given to extending the work to include the south bridge in which case work may continue until the end of October.
Drivers should expect some delays and are advised to allow additional time when travelling in the area.
Announcing the scheme last week DRD Minister Danny Kennedy added: “This is a very significant investment which will extend the life of the structures, ensuring that they are fit for purpose for many years to come.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition