Push is on for new road between Athlone and Boyle

By Seamus Morris

Roscommon County Council are to press ahead with their quest for a new road between Athlone and Boyle (N61). At last week’s meeting of Roscommon County Council, there was unanimous agreement among councillors that an entirely new road was required.

Many councillors spoke of the bad state of the road and the need for a new road linking the two towns and by extension, County Roscommon to the North West. Councillors were told that the council are to seek a reclassification of the road to a primary route.

Council Chief Executive Shane Tiernan told members that the council had prepared an “evidence-based report on reclassification”.

“This road would be a pivotal linkage with the North West and with the expansion of Monksland, this road is more important than ever,” Mr Tiernan told the meeting.

Mr Tiernan added that there was “support in principle for this road from the TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland)”.

He added: “However, it is down to the Minister for Transport (Deputy Eamon Ryan) to make a decision. I am asking members to push for this road through their political parties,” he stated.

“It is important that this route is not just a glorified regional road. I will be pushing this myself to Oireachtas members,” Mr Tiernan added.

Councillors from the Athlone Municipal District all welcomed the proposal. Cllr John Naughten (FG) told the meeting that “this report is a significant body of work. It should stand up to scrutiny. Politically, we need to put the pressure on. The road between Athlone and Boyle is totally sub-standard. There are between 13,000-14,000 cars driving this route daily.

“People living in these areas risk their lives. I propose this reclassification,” the councillor added.

This was seconded by Curraghboy-based councillor Tony Ward (Ind). “I have first raised the issue of this road in the council in 2004. The issues are still there. There are junctions on that road that were put in place in the early 1960s,” he told the meeting. “There has to be a huge improvement upon the existing road,” he added.

Cllr Emer Kelly (Ind) also welcomed the proposal. “We will end up losing this county. No-one will want to invest in the county. The N61 is a key artery through County Roscommon. We need to stand up for rural Ireland and demand an upgrade,” she told her fellow councillors.

Cllr Laurence Fallon (Ind) told the meeting that, “there is a compelling case for this new road. The road between Knockcroghery and Athlone has been found to be over-capacity. The road between Roscommon and Knockcroghery has been found to be at capacity. “The road cannot continue at this standard with this level of capacity,” he stated.

Cllr Donal Kilduff (Ind) stated that, “this road has been a priority of mine in my five years on the council. The road is unable to serve the needs of motorists. There needs to be an upgrade to a national primary route”.

Cllr Valerie Byrne stated that “we need industry here in Co Roscommon. We need to get the N61 upgraded to a primary route.

“There are more cars using this road in the last six months. We need to put pen to paper and contact the Minister. We’re entitled to this road,” she added.

Cllr Nigel Dineen told the meeting that “the main artery of the county is not fit for purpose. A new road is needed. There was money spent on the design for the proposed Knockcroghery bypass and there was nothing in return. The N61 needs to be upgraded to the level that we need”.

Cllr Tom Crosby (Ind) stated that “this new road is critical for the economic growth of the county. 25 years ago, I was part of a deputation that met with the National Road Authority”.

Cllr Pascal Fitzmaurice told his fellow members that, “there is a huge volume of traffic on the Athlone-Roscommon road. This upgrade is important. We need to bring political persuasion on it. It is time someone stood up for us”.

Cllr John Cummins, who was chairing the meeting as Leas-Cathaoirleach of the council, stated that, “this is the one county that has no national road network passing through it”.