‘The whole county has been bypassed’
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have shelved plans for a new 14-kilometre stretch of road as part of the N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery Bypass project in what has been described as a major blow to the economic development of south Roscommon.
The €80 million development, which had been going through pre-planning stages for the last five years, could now be deferred until after 2030.
Roscommon County Council Director of Services, Shane Tiernan, confirmed the “disappointing news” to members at Monday’s monthly meeting of the local authority.
Mr. Tiernan said the N61 project was considered a major scheme by TII, which last year said it would only proceed with major road projects listed in the Government’s National Development Plan (NDP).
He added that the revised NDP, which was published last October, did not specifically mention the N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery project.
At the end of last year, Roscommon County Council made a formal request to TII to proceed with the design and environmental evaluation stage of the proposed bypass.
However, TII has said that due to funding constraints and the identification of priority schemes, they are now not in a position to give approval for the South Roscommon project.
Mr. Tiernan said that on the basis of the TII’s priorities, it is not considered likely that any major roads funding will be allocated to the project before 2026 and most likely prior to 2030.
The preferred route corridor for the bypass had been chosen and would see the current N61 diverted before the railway crossing at Ballymurray before crossing the existing road between Finneran’s pub and the Kilteevan turn off just outside Knockcroghery. The chosen route would proceed south through Corbooley towards Nolan’s Cross beyond Lecarrow village.
Councillors expressed their disappointment with the announcement at Monday’s meeting with Cathaoirleach Cllr. Joe Murphy describing it as “very disappointing news”.
Cllr. Tony Ward said plans had been put in place and lot of money spent on the project before adding that ongoing safety issues on the N61 had yet to be addressed.
“If this project is stopped or paused, they should look at a brand new road,” he said.
“The safety issues are still there and those need to be addressed urgently”.
Cllr. John Naughten said it was “very disappointing” that Roscommon County Council hadn’t received support and investment to complete what is a “very necessary upgrade of the N61” and he echoed calls for construction of a new road.
Cllr. John Keogh said the process of getting the N61 upgraded must be a priority for the Council or there would be major economic implications for the county.
“It is not acceptable to have safety issues drag on until there are fatalities,” he added.
Cllr. Donal Kilduff was scathing in his assessment of the decision, describing it as “horrendous”, and said that while we are pursuing a low-carbon and green future, unsafe carriages and roads should not be ignored.
The Independent councillor said vehicles would still need to use roads such as the N61 and proposed the Council send a letter to TII urging it to reconsider its decision.
Cllr. Orla Leyden proposed writing a letter to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and Taoiseach Micheál Martin, and accused the Government of impeding Roscommon’s economic development.
“It feels like the whole county has been bypassed,” she said.
Cllr. Emer Kelly said that safety issues were an ongoing concern on the N61 but that there seemed to be reluctance on TII’s part to address these concerns.
“Residents are contacting public representatives regularly, seeking solutions to the safety issues, and it’s frustrating for both them and us to be returning with the same news again and again,” she said.
Political People: Page 21