THE PLANNING process for a long-awaited new swing bridge connecting Achill to the mainland will commence next week. Work is due to start in 2007 and it is hoped that it will not take more than 12 months to complete. However, the time scale is dependent on the planning process being completed on schedule and funding being made available.
Last December, the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon Ó Cuív announced a €4 million plan to replace the existing Michael Davitt Bridge and pledged 50 per cent of the funding needed for the project.
Mayo County Council will undertake a Part Eight planning process procedure, a consultation process in which the public and interested parties submit their views to the County Council. Details of the project will be publicised in the local press and plans will be on view in the Áras an Chondae in Castlebar. The Council will take all the suggestions into account before considering how to proceed. The planning procedure should be completed by mid-June.
The present bridge was built in 1947, replacing the original swing bridge which first connected Achill to the mainland in 1887. However, it is showing signs of wear and tear and the swinging mechanism is no longer operational.
The swing bridge will be arched with a causeway and a new turning mechanism. There are designs for footpaths on both approaches to the bridge and one on the causeway.