ONE of the most dangerous stretches of road in Laois will finally be tackled this year.
A €2.5m project is to start on the notorious Arles bends, which have been an accident black spot for many years.
The N80 Maidenhead Realignment Scheme will remove bends and straighten about two kilometres of the road north of Arles, on the route between Portlaoise and Carlow.
The project is expected to go to tender next May with an archaeological survey due to be completed by June, followed by work on site.
Figures from the Road Safety Authority show that there were two fatal crashes, one other crash involving serious injuries and 15 minor injury collisions between the Maidenhead and Coolanowle bends from 2000 to 2012.
The realignment scheme was granted funding by Transport Infrastructure Ireland in December 2017, following more than three years of planning by Laois County Council. The project will improve visibility and reduce the likelihood of head-on collisions and cars veering off the road.
Consulting engineers prepared a design for a new alignment that will bypass the bends and site investigation was carried out by a geotechnical consultant. The county council also commissioned a cost/benefit analysis, which showed “significant financial, economic, road safety and other benefits” in the removal of the bends. The project was approved by An Bórd Pleanála over a year ago.
At the latest meeting of Laois County Council, chief executive John Mulholland said that tenders for quanity surveying services and procurement assurance services have been awarded to Linesight and Stavely & Partners respectively. Tendering for the main scheme will go ahead in parallel with the archaeological services contract and is expected to go to tender in May.
The archaeological services contact was awarded to IAC Ltd on 16 January and it’s expected to be completed by June, which is the latest finish date depending on the extent of archaeological finds. The project will then go to contract, with work likely to start on site in late summer.
The long-awaited news was welcomed by councillors, with cllr John Moran commenting: “Maidenhead is the most dangerous spot on the road from Rosslare to the west, so it is great to see the realignment scheme going ahead at last.”