A two-month, 24-hour closure of two sections of road in Passage West will shut businesses, say councillors who have described the potential damage as “irreversibly detrimental”.
Contractors Ward and Burke are proposing to close two sections of road in the town to lay sewer piping, as part of Irish Water’s Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project.
The first closure is to lay the sewer in the road from Glenbrook Wharf to Lucia Place, in July and August, and the second is to lay it from the Town Hall to the Oysterhaven Boats, in September and October.
The works comprise of 540 metres of gravity sewer, plus 11 chambers.
The aim is to divert all sewage from the area to a new treatment plant at Shanbally to stop the discharge of raw sewage into the harbour.
The equivalent of 20,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage is released into Cork harbour every day.
Local representatives say the extent of the closures was only made known when Irish Water applied for a closure licence in the last week and that locals were not consulted about the length and extent of the works.
The closing date for receipt of objections to the closure is today.
Irish Water project manager, Deaglán Healy, said there are no alternatives, because the size of machinery and noise levels restricts how the contractors can work.
“I’m hearing that there are concerns as regards to the consultation. This process is a road-opening application. There are defined timelines and we have to work within that process,” he said.
“We’ve exhausted all the options. The work means big pipes, big machines, it’s noisy and it’s not nice when the work is going on. A pipe needs to go through the Main Street in Passage and it’s not easy. We didn’t feel it would have been appropriate to consult, when there are no alternatives.
“We’ve looked at tunnelling and we’ve looked at timelines and we’ve decided there is no alternative, given the shape and size of the machines that are necessary to be used.
“I understand the inconvenience for business owners, but the fact is there can be no development in Passage without this pipe plan.
“Once we’ve secured the road closure, we will engage with the community. Safety is our number-one priority”, he added.
Councillor Michael ‘Frick’ Murphy (SF) said local businesses will not survive a close-down of over 40 days, while Seamus McGrath said there was no “meaningful or significant consultation”.
Joe Harris (SD) said Irish Water should explore financial compensation for businesses, but this has been ruled out by the water-utility and Cork County Council.
Mary Rose Desmond (FF) said the works would be a “major shock factor” for Passage and will cause “irreversible detriment” to the town, while Marcia D’Alton added they will be “intolerable” for locals.
Irish Water has said they will reconsider the timing of the works and will seek to improve their levels of engagement with the local community.
Contractors Ward and Burke has organised public meetings for Tuesday, June 26, at Start of the Sea school, in Passage West; Wednesday, June 27, at Scoil Barra Naofa, Monkstown, and Thursday, June 28, at Cobh Community College. All start at 6pm.