Allen family is safer and the yard is cleaner thanks to the new underpass

Seventeen years ago the Allen family of Newcestown investigated building an underpass for their dairy herd but the plan was dropped as it was considered too costly. But the rationale for an underpass did not go away. Cow numbers rose, traffic got heavier and labour more expensive. The road is a busy secondary route linking Bandon and Clonakilty with Macroom.

“Two years ago I found myself operating with less help.” William Allen said.

“My father was semi retired. I was using a cord to make the path across the road for the cows. There was always one cow that wouldn’t come out. The crossing point was at a corner so it was dangerous. Then last summer my oldest daughter was helping and a car came around the corner and had to brake hard, giving us all a fright. That was the decider. We had to go for an underpass.”

Applying for planning permission got underway in September. William used the services of Michael O’Discroll of Complete Project Management Services.

“Getting planning permission was straightforward. The County Council was very helpful. They are very conscious of road safety. They would like more farmers to put in underpasses. Of course it’s easy for them to say that when they don’t even pay for the bit of tarmac on top”

William and Michael came up with a new route for the underpass which required a new exit from the milking parlour but was shorter and therefore cheaper than the one priced 17 years ago.
“This route was very straightforward. We didn’t have to knock any walls or cut and concrete.”

Building work started six weeks ago.

“Thankfully, it went very smoothly. We dug out the new site in eight hours and hit rock only at the end, at a depth of 11 feet”

The excavation work was done by John Murphy Plant Hire of Bandon. The culverts were supplied by Croom Concrete. The company installed the culverts using a big crane. The walls were built by Brendan Collins of Dunmanway. Gates, railings and the grid over the tank were installed by Jimmy Buttimer Metal Fabrication.

William put an underground tank at the lower end of the underpass. He used a 1,000l steel framed plastic tank which he had on hand, fitted with an electric pump.

He fitted lighting in the tunnel.

“There’s an 80 foot approach from the yard side with 11 foot high walls. In winter it will be dark and cows might be scared to enter the underpass. So we fitted four lights. Wiring was carried out by Bill Allen of Drimoleague who operates as Five Continents Electrical.”

The cows went through for the first time on Thursday of last week.

“They took to it straight away. One thing I noticed immediately – there is so much less cow dung now on the yard. The cows used to have to wait to be let across the road. Some cows could be waiting up to an hour. Now they finish milking and are back out in the field in ten minutes.”

The underpass has made life a lot easier for William.

“I’m not dependent on help now. It’s far more of a one man operation. After milking, the cows don’t have to wait around – we just open the gate and let them off. The tunnel is ten feet wide and seven feet high. We use a Bobcat loader and that can go through. I will be able to keep the tunnel clean with the brush on the Bobcat. The jeep can also get through.”