BORRIS and Carlow received a massive boost last week, as funding for significant works to the historic viaduct were approved.
The Borris Railway Viaduct project is set to receive €654,820 in funding, with plans for new surface on the walkway along with steps, a lift for the disabled and safety railings.
The news is a timely boost to one of Carlow’s most attractive tourist spots, which is enjoyed by countless visitors every year.
Chairperson of Borris Tidy Town cllr Willie Quinn said the money has been a long-time coming, with previous attempts to secure funds being unsuccessful.
It’s understood the money will address long-standing issues at the viaduct.
The new surface will replace the current clay covering, which has been affecting stonework. Safety rails will also be installed on the viaduct. There are plans for steps to the viaduct on the vocational school side of the structure and a lift for people with disabilities on the Rathanna side.
“The whole idea is to link up the town,” said cllr Quinn. “As you go up to the GAA fields, there are no footpaths or up to Sacred Heart graveyard. It’s a dangerous section of the road and very busy.”
The Labour councillor hopes the project will go to tender after Christmas, with work beginning in early 2019.
“It’s a massive boost for the town and it’s something we are really looking forward to,” he said.
Welcoming the news, deputy Pat Deering said: “I am extremely pleased to see this government delivering on its promise to make sure that rural Ireland isn’t left behind. This funding is intended to strengthen and develop our rural communities and develop smaller towns and villages. Borris is a beautiful heritage town. This investment will make it even more appealing to visitors.”
The 19th century viaduct hit the headlines in early March, when it was closed to walkers by Carlow County Council due to safety issues, although the closure did not go according to plan.
“It wasn’t closed off too long, to be honest with you,” said cllr Quinn. “There are so many people who continue to walk there. There is not much the council can do, apart from blockading it all off.”
Cllr Quinn thanked council staff past and present for their work on the viaduct over the years, along with elected representatives.
The project is part of 18 nationwide schemes to be supported in 2019 totalling €24.4m under the government’s **Rural Regeneration and Development Fund**. A total of €55m has been allocated to the fund for 2019 and further announcements of projects to be funded in 2019 will follow shortly. Over the next three years, €315m will be invested in rural communities across Ireland through the €1bn fund.
Deputy Deering said the fund was available for the transformation of rural communities and he encouraged communities with a vision to apply.
Speaking last Friday, chief executive of Carlow County Council Kathleen Holohan said the announcement brought the investment achieved by the local authority in partnership with communities to €2.9 million since the establishment of the Town and Village Scheme and Rural Regeneration Scheme.