The €46M River Dargle Flood Relief Scheme was officially opened at a ceremony in Bray today (Weds) by the Minister of State, Mr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD.
Speaking at the event, Minister Moran said the scheme would protect 650 residential and many commercial properties from flood and represented a very significant investment in the infrastructure of Bray and Wicklow and would help the further growth and development of the town.
He added: “As I drove into the town today, I was very impressed to see the new flood walls and the pedestrian walkways alongside them. I must say that I think the finished scheme looks really well and is a credit to all who worked on it and to the people of Bray who supported the scheme.”
The Minister said the recent flood events in Donegal and other parts of the country had highlighted again the devastation and loss that flooding can cause to people and their property. He and his staff in the Office of Public Works (OPW), along with the local authorities, had been working hard to implement effective measures to address this major problem which was a priority for the Government and for him personally.
Bray Town had suffered considerable flooding over the years and the OPW working with Bray Municipal District and Wicklow County Council developed proposals to address the problem for the town and protect against the 200-year tidal flood event and the 100-year fluvial event. Construction began in 2012 and, despite a serious setback in 2013 when the contractor on the job got into difficulty, works got under way again without too much delay. The remaining works were progressed on a phased basis under the skilful management of TKFM Ltd.
Minister Moran said the successful completion of this major project was possible through the hard work of many people. He thanked the staff of Wicklow County Council; Tom Foley and his staff in TKFM Ltd; the OPW, all the staff in the various engineering and environmental consultants and, of course, the contractors and their employees whose construction skills were evident.
He also acknowledged the input of his colleague and local man, Minister Simon Harris, who had a role to play in the progression of this scheme during his time as Minister of State with the OPW.
Finally, the Minister said he wanted to thank the residents of Bray for their co-operation, resilience and patience over the course of many years of construction works in the town. “I know that, at times, there was considerable disruption in the town and this co-operation has been very much appreciated by all those involved in the development and construction of the scheme”, he stated.
The Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Frank Curran, said the scheme was an important piece of infrastructure which aims to protect the town of Bray and its people. It involved the widening and deepening of the river channel, which would make the river as hydraulically efficient as possible. Construction of walls and embankments along the riverbanks will contain the flow within the river channel from a 1-in-a-100-year fluvial flood event of the River Dargle and a 1-in-200-year tidal flood event.
The works took place over a 3.3 km stretch from Silverbridge at the N11 to the Harbour Bridge at Bray Harbour and included the demolition and rebuilding of river walls with extensive stone facing, river regrading and excavation together with the provision of debris traps to prevent trees and other large objects from travelling down the river. To mitigate against the impacts of the scheme a range of landscape treatments and improvements have been carried out along the river corridor. An Environmental Monitoring Committee was set up to ensure the co-ordination of environmental mitigation measures.
Mr Curran said the works were carried out in a number of phases – Harbour Bridge to Bray Bridge, Bray Bridge to Peoples Park, Rehills Land to La Vallee; additional works were carried out to the Irish Rail Bridge, Seapoint Court, the Maltings and at Ravenswell Road.
He acknowledged the the advance planning and work carried out by the staff of the former Bray Town Council, led by Des O’Brien, in ensuring that there were no delays when the decision was made by the Office of Public Works to fund the scheme. This included the preparation and submission of an EIS to An Bord Pleanala followed by the acquisition of necessary lands prior to the appointment in 2012 of a contractor to carry out the works.
Initially this scheme was to be a design and build project with a main contractor but the appointed contractor went into examinership in 2013. At that stage the Council’s priority was to re-commence the works as soon as possible. With the approval of the Office of Public Works Wicklow Co Council procured a construction management service provider and Tom Foley Management Co was appointed in July 2014. This was an innovative approach and has proven to be very successful. A number of frameworks were set up to procure both design services and construction contractors to carry out the necessary flood defence works.
Mr Curran also acknowledged the working relationship between the various state agencies involved in the delivery of this project while the co-operation of residents while the works were being carried out was to be commended.
Concluding, he said he would like to recognize the work of the Steering Committee made up of staff from Wicklow Co Council, Office of Public Works and Tom Foley Management Co, who worked cohesively together in the delivery of the project which would greatly reduce the risk of flooding and thus enhance the protection of both private and public property in Bray.
The Leas Cathaoirleach, Wicklow County Council, Cllr Pat Vance, said he was delighted to attend the opening of the Scheme adding: “This is extremely important to the people of Bray who have experienced flooding in the past. The Members of Bray Municipal District know the necessity of the Flood Defence Scheme to protect properties and more importantly, the lives of the people of Little Bray.
“The combination of the low-lying nature of Little Bray vis-a-vis the River Dargle, the large number of single-storey houses, and the presence of a large proportion of elderly people living in the area makes this a high-risk area. I would like to acknowledge the patience and understanding of the residents while the Flood Defence works were ongoing.”
Cllr Vance welcomed the fact that newsletters were forwarded to local residents and businesses during the works period and I trust this helped keep people informed as to the progress of the scheme. The Environmental Monitoring Committee which met regularly also helped in the communication to relevant parties and afforded an opportunity for local engagement.
The additional benefits arising from the scheme for residents in Bray included the walkway at Seapoint Court, the Boardwalk at Peoples Park and the River Walk at Ravenswell Road, he said adding that he was pleased also to see that the Peoples Park had been re-instated following the construction works.
Cllr Vance stated: “I would like to mention the following facts that may be of interest to you – during the engineering works carried out as part of this scheme there were two acres of new masonry walls constructed which equates to the size of the Aviva Stadium. A total of 116 new public seats have been provided together with 16 acres of grassed areas – this is almost the size of St Stephen’s Green.”
He thanked everyone involved with the project and mentioned that there was an exhibition on display in the Council Offices, kindly sponsored by Tom Foley Management Company, which was free to the public entitled “Our Town, Our River” and he encouraged everyone to attend, especially schools.