TII report raises questions over Knockcroghery Bypass timeline

Some projects to be deferred beyond 2030

There is speculation this week that the major Ballymurray-Knockcroghery Bypass project could be deferred for more than a decade due to budgetary constraints.

  While planning of the bypass has been steadily progressing, there are indications now that a number of mooted road projects will not be financed as part of the 2021-2025 phase of the National Development Plan.

  Furthermore, while some projects which don’t progress in the short-term will be allocated funding in the 2026-2030 period, others will be pushed out to 2030 and beyond, with the TII (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) advising that such “remaining projects” will be “expected to continue progression” post-2030.

  One local county councillor has this week voiced concern that the Knockcroghery project could be decades from proceeding. Cllr. Anthony Waldron said it is his understanding that the bypass will be deferred for a number of years, if it proceeds at all.

  The Roscommon People recently put a number of questions on the status of the project to Roscommon County Council. While declining to respond to our specific queries, the Council stated: “The Executive will be giving an update on the N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery Road Project at the Council Plenary Meeting on Monday, 21st February 2022”.

  Roscommon County Council, in conjunction with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and Roughan & O’Donovan Consulting Engineers, have been progressing the Planning & Design of the N61 Ballymurray to Knockcroghery Road Project in recent years.

  Following consideration of submissions and feedback received through a public consultation process, a preferred route corridor was published last August.

  The funding constraints which could slow down or even halt this project are alluded to – albeit quite vaguely – in a recently published TII document on grant allocations.

  The NDP Plan 2021-2030 is approached in two periods of five years, namely 2021-2025 and 2026-2030. The TII says €2.4bn in funding is to be allocated by the Department of Transport for 2021-2025, with €1,300m of this being for new roads. The planning and design of bypass projects will continue, but prioritisation will apply.

  The document clearly indicates that there is the prospect of more substantial funding for the period 2026-2030, suggesting that many projects currently in planning will have to wait.

  The TII speculates that about €4,000m will be provided for new roads during the 2026-2030 period, stressing that this is an ‘indicative’ figure and that the final funding total for 2026-2030 will not be finalised until 2025 (as part of a 2026-2035 Plan).

  The clearest indication of an immediate funding squeeze comes when the TII states that “there is a need to balance available funding across the national roads programmes, projects and operations having regard to the NDP”.

  The documents adds: “The rate of progress on the delivery of major projects is dependent on the availability of funding resources on a multi-annual basis”.

  The document goes on to spell out that “the constraints on the funding for 2021-2025” means several projects named in the NDP will be “progressed during the period 2026-2030 or post-2030, in line with the projected increased funding expected to be available in 2026-2030”.

  As to the current approach on bypasses, the report indicates that after meeting other priorities, the intention is to allocate funding to continue planning and design of major projects that provide town or village bypasses, with a view to supporting Compact Growth and Town Centre First objectives.

  It adds: “A restricted number of projects are expected to commence main works construction, subject to approvals, in the 2026-2030 period of the NPD. Remaining projects are expected to continue progression through planning and/or commence main works construction, subject to approvals, post-2030”.