The following gives an overview of the various tasks which had to be completed in order to get the project over the line. What isn’t adequately captured here is the amount of time needed to oversee the project, deal with queries from the public, liaise with the contractors, and think about the strategic positioning of the project and the additional value it offers to the public other than for recreational use.
The summary task timeline:
- Funding secured from Dept of Transport’s National Cycle Network programme under their Smarter Travel initiative
- Internal team appointed to drive the project: 1 engineer (Jonny Condell) to oversee technical aspects, one development officer (Carol Lambe) to oversee the consultation, promotion & biodiversity aspects. Each allocated 0.5 of their time to the project
- Invitation to tender for external consultants to prepare a detailed design, take the project through planning & oversee the construction (due to staff shortages, we hadn’t the resources to do this in-house)
- URS appointed as consultant engineers on the project
- Initial inspection of the route & discussion of options
- Commissioning of ecological survey of the route. This is a legal requirement for the planning application. Species such as bats cannot be surveyed during the winter, as they hibernate. If we’d waited another few weeks, we’d have had to wait until spring 2013, which would have delayed the planning application and knocked back the completion date for the project by some months. Usually, such surveys just identify the presence of various species and their location, and advise if any special protection measures need to be built in. We asked for more: we asked for recommendations on how to best enhance the habitats as we proceeded. This information became the basis for the work of our Biodiversity Team
- Research into ownership status of the canal.
- Monaghan Town Council established as owners of section from Rooskey to the Glen Road and from Horseshoe Bridge to the Threemilehouse Road view map
- Monaghan County Council established as owners of section from Coolshannagh roundabout to Rooskey view map
- A section at Tully/ Mullaghcroghery, from the Glen road to Horseshoe bridge was unregistered, and was being occupied. (a short section by St Louis Convent, and the remainder by the descendants of the Tully lock keeper)
October/ November 2012:
- Public consultation on the preferred route (view consultation notice)
- Consultation with An Garda Siochana regarding designing the pathway with security in mind. Report received and advice taken on board in detailed design
- Land registry search for owners of all adjacent properties, so we could be sure to include them in our consultation
- Negotiations with Tully occupants commenced
- Topographical survey commissioned, to produce an accurate map of the canal and banks. All the humps and hollows which needed to be negotiated were revealed.
- Geotechnical survey commissioned, to establish the ground conditions. This is necessary in order to know the extent and type of groundworks (foundations) which will be required. Without this, a contractor can’t estimate the quantity of materials which will be needed and therefore can’t cost the project.
- Entry onto the lands at Tully secured via a Notice of Entry so that topographical survey could be completed
- Stage One Road Safety Audit commissioned. This provided advice on where road crossing would be best positioned
- Ecological Survey received. Recommendations fed into the detailed design
- Request sent to ESB to
- relocate a pole at the Coolshannagh roundabout to allow ground to be excavated
- bring power to the new pedestrian crossings along the route
- Biodiversity Team established to advise on how to protect the canal habitats during construction, and how best to develop it post completion for both biodiversity management and as an education resource. Water quality expert alerted to a possible issue with untreated domestic effluent into the canal at one point along the route. Undertakes to sort it out.
December 2012/ January 2013:
- Final detailed design from URS
- Work of the Biodiversity team added to the design. There will be an outdoor classroom at Rooskey, to facilitate schools on the Armagh road side of town. This will complement the outdoor classroom which has been created at the Clones Road as part of the biodiversity project in Tom Young’s Wood. Invasive species identified along the route include Azola, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam. Treatment programmes devised, and a Development PLan 2013-2016 produced.
- Start of planning process (view Part 8 Planning report which summarises the issues and decisions taken)
- Negotiation continued with Tully occupants
- Presented the proposed route to the Council Members, informed them of all potential contentious issues, and walked them through our reasons for choosing the route we were proposing. Enabled Members to raise concerns and agree an approach which they were happy with before the project came before them for a Planning decision
April/ May 2013:
- Planning process concluded (Part 8 process, where the Council essentially applied to itself for planning permission). No amendments to proposed works, but requested a second survey for bats & badgers before work commenced
- Bat & badger surveys commissioned
- Bird Survey carried out by Birdwatch Ireland volunteer, Joe Shannon. A kingfisher caused great excitement!
- Preliminary construction drawings produced by URS. These become the ‘Bible’ upon which the tenderers base their costings. You are locked in to completing the project as per this set of drawings, and if you want to make any changes, the contractor is entitled to charge extra. So it’s very important to have your design as well thought-through as possible at this stage, or you may come to regret it later! (we didn’t, we’re just saying!)
- Tender documents prepared by URS for construction phase
- Invitation to tender posted on E-Tenders
- Decision to proceed with acquiring the Tully section by Compulsory Purchase Order
- CPO process initiated
- Tenders assessed & the preferred tenderer notified
- Preferred tender asked to submit evidence of insurance, tax clearance etc
- Notice of intent to award contract issued to all tenderers. Statutory period allowed for receipt of objections before contact can finally be awarded
- Contract awarded & signed copy issued to tenderer and Council
- Bat Survey received. No amendments necessary to the proposed project
- Badger Survey received. No amendments necessary to the proposed project
- Pollution issue traced and remedied. The section of canal in question will need to be cleaned
Sept/ Oct 2013:
- Contractor NC Plant Hire, from Annyalla Co Monaghan. moved onto site. Our wish to complete the works outside of breeding/ nesting season met with a positive response from the contractor, who promised to do all in his power to minimise the disturbance to wildlife along the canal. Dry autumn allowed ground excavation to proceed without delay
- On the recommendation of the Biodiversity Team, the top soil was preserved from site, so that it could be replaced along the sides of the path, thus preserving the seed bed that had developed on the banks over the last century
- Work commenced on the sections of the route which were in ownership of the Councils.
- Logo for the Greenway commissioned. The design brief stressed the environmental sustainability aspects of the project
- Notice received from An Bord Pleanala that an objection had been lodged to the CPO. Oral hearing held. Bill for hearing from An Bord Pleanala: €18,500 for one morning, to hear one appellant. Cost has to be borne entirely by the local authority. There goes our budget for nice feature signage for the route!
- Work on Armagh Rd to Old Cross Square substantially complete
- Logo finalised. We’re rather pleased with it.
- Section 1 (Armagh rd to Old Cross Sq) officially launched by Minister Alan Kelly
- Work continued on Clones road end through Tom Young’s Wood
- Stage 2 Road Safety Assessment received & incorporated into the works
- Funding awarded to Monaghan Tidy Towns from the Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund for the design and production of biodiversity information signage, to be erected along the route
- Decision received from An Bord Pleanala. CPO awarded without amendment. Notice to Treat and Notice of Entry served on all parties at Tully. Statutory period observed before finally entering onto land.
- In order to minimise disturbance to the residents at the lock house, the pathway crosses the bed of the canal and uses the far bank, coming up at Horseshoe bridge. In so doing, it crosses a little feeder stream which empties into the convent lake. This meant that the Council had to apply for a Section 50 from the OPW, who had to approve the proposed design of the crossing, to ensure that the flow of water was unimpeded and was adequate to cope with high-flow incidents such as flooding
- Negotiations with OPW regarding the design of a culvert commence. The first design fed into ‘the model’ would be prohibitively costly. Some lateral thinking is employed. As the crossing will require additional works to what was specified in the tender documents, this constitutes a ‘material change’ to the original contract, meaning that the contractor will be entitled to revise his estimate for this section. More money!
- Statutory period complete for Notice to Treat and Notice of Entry. Contractor moves onto site at Tully
- Some subsidence noted on sections of fencing, due to bank slipping during winter weather. Approach agreed and sections fenced off with Harris fencing to protect the public in the interim.
- ESB finally moves the pole, and the final 20 meters at the Armagh rd roundabout can be completed. Yay!
- Still no sign of power to the pedestrian lights. You pay them up front when you make such requests. Payment for the ‘lighting up’ of the control box in Old Cross Square was sent in 2011!!
- Exciting news received from Birdwatch Ireland. Not only has the kingfisher not been disturbed by the new Greenway, but it is now nesting! Agreed to hold off repair works to fencing, until after the nesting season
- Red surfacing goes down on the on-road sections of the Greenway, to make it clear to motorists that this is a dedicated cycle lane. The red stuff doesn’t stick well in cold weather, so this had to be left right to the end of the project. Line markings added
- Work substantially complete over the whole project
- We’re down to the fiddly bits now:
- How to stop people banging their heads off the bridges by going too close to the side : agreed lo-tech solution with contractor was to install mini-gates to push people out from the low side of the bridge. This avoided the need to erect nasty modern signage on the cut-stone bridges
- Lighting underneath the bridges. Ducting has been laid for this, but there is a concern that lighting might prevent bats from travelling along the canal. Further advice is sought from Dr Tina Aughney of Bat Conservation Ireland. It is decided to not install lighting for the moment. If it becomes an issue (perhaps for safety or anti social behaviour reasons) in the future, we have Dr Aughney’s advice on types of light fixtures on file.
- The lock house at Rooskey is being commented on by Greenway users. It’s very overgrown and unloved. Monaghan Tidy Towns agrees to take it on as a project
- Directional signage has to be translated into Irish before it can be ordered
- Snagging list prepared with contractor
- The adjustments for all ‘material changes’ to the contract agreed with contractor
- Stage 3 Road Safety Audit commissioned. This has to be done post completion, when all road crossings are installed. It’s a final inspection to ensure all works were carried out as per the advice in the Stage 1 and 2 audits.
- Work on Lock house project commences
- Biodiversity signage erected by Monaghan Tidy Towns. Frames constructed by Monaghan Men’s Shed. Thanks guys!
Still want to construct a Greenway?
Good luck to you!