Minister opens cross-border bridges

29 October 2010 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Veronica Johnston

LAST Wednesday, as we went to press, the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey visited the county to open the replacement bridges at Annaghroe and Knockaginny, with a view to re-establishing important cultural links between cross-border communities in Monaghan and Tyrone.

These bridges over the Blackwater between Glaslough in County Monaghan and Caledon in Co. Tyrone were closed in the 1950’s and 1970’s respectively.

In 2007 at a North/South Ministerial meeting, the Irish Government gave a commitment to fund the replacement of these two bridges. This was an historic decision, as it was recognised that there was no longer a security justification for the last two such cross border roads remaining closed.

Speaking at the event, Minister Dempsey said: “I am delighted to be here today on this important occasion.

“The Irish National Development Plan for the period 2007 to 2013 recognised that regional and local roads play an important economic role in Ireland.  As part of its commitment to a significant investment in the network, the NDP specifically provided for the re-opening of the remaining cross border roads closed during the Troubles.  I am delighted to say that today, with the opening of these two bridges, that job of work is now complete.

“These bridges will serve sometimes very socially and physically isolated communities nestled in between Monaghan, Dungannon and Armagh. They will open up access to these communities and allow a more economic and productive use of farmland in the areas they serve, as well as reducing journey times between the natural hinterlands of Dungannon Monaghan and Armagh.

“As with all civil works nowadays an appraisal of the two projects was carried out in order to decide if the projects were worth proceeding with.  On an economic basis I am sure that there are other projects whose promoters would say are more deserving of funding, but assessments of their nature go beyond Euros or Pounds.

“Included in the scoring system was weighting attached to such issues as the potential of these bridges to improve access to services and business opportunities in the region, the potential to improve the quality of life for people living in the region and the potential to improve the cross border infrastructure.

“Another part of the business case for these roads refers to reduced journey times between communities and re-establish the inter-dependability of the trio of market towns Dungannon, Armagh and Monaghan previously accessible over these bridges.

“The two bridges have been re-instated as a result of cross-border co-operation involving Monaghan County Council, Dungannon Council and Armagh City and District Council.”

Full report in The Northern Standard

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