EIGHT years on and still there’s no progress on laying a footpath over a short stretch of railway track at Fr Browne Avenue in Portlaoise.
It’s gotten to the stage that councillors from the area are getting frustrated at the delay and once again vented their anger over the issue at a recent meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald asked what progress, “if any”, was CIE making in relation to the footpath.
“We’re still waiting for work to start. It’s very dangerous there. There’s hundreds of walkers and people with buggies and prams walking out there. This is a safety issue,” she stated.
Cllr Willie Aird said: “It’s very frustrating what CIE are doing to this local authority. But their day will come when they’ll come back to us for something. This has been going on for the past eight years. It’s totally unfair and very frustrating. There’s loads of room up there to put down a footpath.”
Senior executive engineer Wes Wilkinson stated that discussions had taken place between the council and CIE on the matter. He said that the council had obtained a revised licence agreement from CIE and “we are still trying to finalise the terms and conditions therein and have sought legal advice also”.
It’s the third licence agreement that is being discussed about the matter.
In September 2016, the engineer told councillors that in order for a licence agreement to be granted, CIE Property Management would need to approve it, then return the agreement to the council for signing. It would then be returned to CIE Property Management which, in turn, would then submit it to the CIE board for counter-signing. If at that stage the documentation was in order, payment for the works would be made to the Irish Rail and Track Structures Department, which would then forward it to Irish Rail. Finally, it would then issue a start date to Laois County Council for work to begin.
At last year’s meeting, Mr Wilkinson said he expected the work to start that December or early in January. However, he cautioning councillors at that time that the works could only proceed “subject to all of the above steps going according to plan”.