Slane Bridge opened to traffic last Friday almost two weeks after its emergency closure to facilitate roadworks on its northern approach, but traffic restrictions continued in the area until yesterday (Tuesday).
The reopening came as a major relief to Slane residents living south of the bridge, who had faced a 15km detour to access the village and to residents of the Beauparc area who saw a huge increase in the volume of traffic in the area as vehicles diverted across Stackallen Bridge, despite official diversions being signposted through Navan.
The reopening was welcomed by Slane councillor, Wayne Harding, who said the people of Slane had been very patient and had experienced great inconvenience. He said the volumes of traffic passing through Beauparc and Stackallen for the past fortnight had shown that a HGV ban in Slane would just shift the problem elsewhere and he looked forward to putting these points to the Bord Pleanala inspectors at the oral hearing into the route for the proposed Slane bypass next week.
Cllr Harding said the work carried out was top-quality and the surface was now in good condition. Up to 10,000 vehicles cross Slane Bridge each day and the bridge has been the scene of numerous fatal accidents over the years.
The proposed bypass has enormous support locally, but has become a subject of controversy because of its proximity to Newgrange.
The oral hearing into the proposed bypass will begin on 15th February in the Boyne Valley Hotel, Drogheda. The planning board is holding a preliminary meeting today (Wednesday) to acertain how many people want to make submissions to the main oral hearing.
The first week of the hearing is expected to be spent looking at how the proposed bypass will contribute to the improvement of traffic in Slane. The archaeological implications, including the fact that the proposed route for the bypass is 500m from the buffer zone around the World Heritage Site at Brú na Bóinne, will be considered in the second week.