Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Deputy for raising this very important subject. He will be aware that I cannot make any commitment at this stage and that he is putting a case which is competing with many others in what is not a bottomless pit. I acknowledge the fact he has made a very good case for upgrading the N24, in particular when he mentioned the spatial strategy, which is important, and the fact the road is undoubtedly substandard. I point out to him, because I do not want to raise expectations and I have had a multitude of requests about roads, that we really have not been able to do anything to even keep up with the steady state in recent years and that will not happen until 2019 or 2020. We are coming from behind but, as the Deputy said, the capital review will I hope release capital.
The N24 services the cities of Limerick and Waterford. The route originates at the junction of the N24 and the N7 at Henry Street in the city of Limerick and terminates at the junction of the N9 and N25 at the Brother Ignatius Rice Bridge in Waterford city. The overall route length of the N24 is approximately 120 km. An approximate breakdown of the route length by local authority means that the largest stretch of the route is in the Deputy's home county of Tipperary. A number of significant upgrades to the N24 were being planned before the financial crisis but were, unfortunately, suspended at route selection stage due to lack of funding. These included the Bansha-Tipperary-Oola bypass, the Cahir-Bansha road, the Carrick-on-Suir bypass, the Clonmel-Cahir bypass and the Mooncoin bypass. The Government's capital investment plan, building on recovery, infrastructure and capital investment, provides the financial and strategic framework for Transport Infrastructure Ireland's, TII, activities during the period from 2016 to 2021. The N24 was not included among those projects which were identified for development during the period of the plan. However, as the Deputy is aware, mid-term review of the capital investment plan is being undertaken by the Government and the position on the development of the route will be reviewed in the light of the outcome of the review and any additional funding priorities that may be identified by the Government for the national roads programme.
The Department's submission, as part of the capital plan review, includes provision for the development of a project pipeline for national roads. Among the projects included in the pipeline is an upgrade of one section of the N24, from Cahir to Limerick Junction, which is 27 km. The capital review process is under way and decisions on the outcome will be made before budget 2018.