Post Cashel By-Pass, Peace Reigns

The Tipperary Star, 23rd October, 2004

Cashel has settled down to the peace and quiet of the post by-pass period.  The final piece of the new rorld system, the link road between the N8 and the N74, was opened on Friday evening.  The construction of this road is rather puzzling because nobody has informed us what traffic it is relieving. Golden traffic to Clonmel will probably travel via New Inn. Whatever traffic travels from Clonmel to Golden may take it, though it may find the journey through the town to be quicker.

There is also a certain confusion about access to the town from the Clonmel Road. The demands of the town have been half met. There is access to the bypass towards Dublin at the Clonmel road round about, as there is off the by-pass at the same point. What the by-pass does not allow is access at that point, to and from Cork. To get to Cork from Clonmel drivers have to come into the town and travel out to the Cahir roundabout.

The National Roads Authority have produced a colorful brochure giving the statistics on the construction of the bypass. It contains some powerful aerial images of the new road. One from the GortMakellis roundabout shows Ballykelly Castle and the elegant contour of the dual carriageway as it sweeps up the incline to the first bridge.

The deepest cut in a hill along the whole route was made on this stretch where a 27 m cut in the hill had to be made. The removal of the cut provided much of the 735,000 cubic meters of excavated material used in the building of the bypass. More material was excavated from the cut in the 2 km link road between the N8 and the N74.

Other interesting statistics on the project include the information that 2.1 km of regional and local roads were realigned. Anyone familiar with this realignment would be aware of the excellent improvement in the approaches to the new bridge on the Furry Hill road to Dualla. One moves from the narrowest of roads to a fine wide tarmacadam slip with full road markings and cats eyes. To a person arriving to it for the first time it appears like a mirage. 

As well as that bridge there are two others, over the Dualla road and at the Clonmel intersection. There is also an under bridge on link road that crosses the Windmill Road. There is also a cattle underpass.

As whether the excavated materials, close to half million cubic meters of deposited materials were used, and 74,000 tons of crushed rock subbase. There are 21 km of road side timber fencing, 6700 meters of concrete median barrier, and 145,200 tons of bituminous macadem surfacing.

The median barrier is a fine piece of construction. Installed by J. and D. Burke Ltd., it follows the contour of the road with precision. It contains two embedded steel robes that are capable of resisting a major impact and ensure that it is highly unlikely that any vehicle with cross into traffic on the other carriageway.

One of the fascinating aspects of such developments is that there are no longer opened until the last piece of the construction is completed. So much so that Grangemore Landscaping Ltd., who had the contract for the landscaping of the development, have the grass growing on the sides, and the trees planted.

The contract was awarded to Roadbridge Ltd., Limerick in April 2003.  It commenced on May 5th, 2003, with an allocated program time of 24 months. It was opened on October 11th, 2004, almost 7 months ahead of schedule.

The project was the first major construction in South Tipperary to be undertaken using the "Design and Build" contract format. The vast number of people in Cashel and surrounding area are delighted with the result.

In common with the procurement of major road projects, South Tipperary County Council and the National Roads Authority commissioned Orla de Bri to produce a public art sculpture symbolic of the area. The artist has developed a feature comprised of five, six meter tall bronze male figures with mirrored faces. These figures are representative of the High Kings of Munster. Each figure is wearing a stylized crown. These crowns are highlighted in gold leaf.

The shields they carry tell the artistic story of the area. One carries a depiction of the Rock of Cashel and another, a cathedral spire. These features of the sculptures are also highlighted in gold leaf in contrast to dark patina. The faces are made of mirror finish stainless steel. Conceptually, this gives the idea of seeing ourselves in the faces of our ancestors. 

The piece is visually strong and dominant as were the High Kings of Munster. Just as they guarded the path to the south in the past, this five piece sculpture symbolically guards the main highway to the South now.