Leitrim road sees groundbreaking refurb as old tyres used to boost tarmac above floodplain

Leitrim County Council thinks there'll be so much public interest in the road that it could become a new tourist attraction in the area

Our man Eugene with crew at the new road in Leitrim

Eugene Masterson

Drivers using an isolated road in Leitrim will have an extra lift in their suspension.

That's because the road is built on bales of recycled tyres in a groundbreaking bid to help it survive storm floods from the nearby river Shannon.

And Leitrim County Council thinks there'll be so much public interest in the road that it could become a new tourist attraction in the area.

The road near Jamestown, close to Carrick-on-Shannon, is bordered on one side by the Shannon and on the other by Rinnacureen lake.

Eugene at the site of the new road being laid

"The history of this road is we've had a couple of fluvial floodings from the Shannon, we are basically in the floodplain of the Shannon," explains Darragh O'Boyle, district engineer for Leitrim County Council.

"Back in 2009/2010 season, there was a metre of water on this road, and then again in 2015, not as much but we still had a half a metre on this road here.

"The reason we're doing this is because some years with heavy storms, you won't get in here for four or five months. So we are just trying to provide safe access."

The 1km-long road is a public cul de sac and services six homes and ­several farms. Part of it fell away in the last storm and had to replaced by a temporary wooden structure.

"We had a couple of options," says Darragh. " One was do nothing, but I'd say we are a progressive local authority so we would try and help out the citizen as much as we can. The fact that it is a public road, the maintenance is our charge anyway.

Engineers on the site

"The second option was to dig it out and replace it with stone. But there's between five and seven metres of peat underneath this road, so the cost of that would be astronomical.

"So the third option was kind of think outside the box here and I suppose we are all entering this circular economy, so we want to recycle, reuse as much material as possible. The option that was available to us was this tyre bale system."

The council gets its supply of recycled tyres from the Crossmore company in Co Cork, with a lorryload transporting 36 bales.

"They allow us to build up the road to half a metre above the existing level," says Darragh.

"It's got a geotherm, which is kind of a wrap, then we put sand on it. Then we put these steel bars and put the tyres on it and close it up. Then we put a slight skimming on it and you end up with this surface and a slight layer of tarmacadam.

"We have to build up the verges either side so that is going to take material as well, with lightweight stone material which will allow the Shannon to come up and down without washing it away."

Darragh says other counties are beginning to use the tyre method, which has already been used in countries such as Australia and South Africa.

"We are the mercy of the Shannon," he says. "The nature of the beast is it's slow to flood and it's slow to get away. At least we have warnings, unlike other rivers.

"Our finished design will get us over the 2015 event. We wouldn't be able to afford to construct to get us over the one in 100-year storm. Every winter this road is closed, there is a foot of water or two foot of water, people can't get in and get out."

The cost of the project is around E130,000, which is about 14 per cent over the normal budget for such a road without the tyres.

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