Tuesday, 14 November 2017
Topical Issue Debate
Road Improvement Schemes
I thank the Minister, Deputy Ross, for coming to the House to give me some information on this matter. The N62 is a critical artery through Offaly and the midlands. It links the M6 at Athlone and continues to the M7 at Roscrea and the M8 at Horse and Jockey. It is crucial that the road, which is a national secondary road, be maintained to the highest possible standard because we require it to ensure we can develop our social, economical and cultural offerings in the area. We need access to our power station, forestry and for industrial purposes. We need access to develop the rural economy. We have a very good business park in Ferbane, which has a food campus, and we need good access there.
Unfortunately, some parts of the road are deteriorating, particularly in Ferbane as one heads out of the town towards the Gallen Priory nursing home. A significant piece of the road really and truly is in a dreadful state and needs to be upgraded. We then move onto the roundabout at Cloghan, which is in a particularly poor state. I understand a design has been drafted for public consultation. Good consultation will find an agreement on the design because a solution needs to be found. It is an unusual junction with five roads leading into it. Another measure is required at Boolinarig Cross, which is a very unsafe junction. The speed of traffic along that route means it is frightening to try to exit from those two routes onto the junction.
A number of people are living along those two routes. There is a lot of agricultural activity and ordinary domestic activity along them. A total reconfiguration of that junction is required to help people to exit onto the N62. I understand there has been a little bit of work on it in the past. Agreements with landowners have been negotiated or are certainly in progress. It seems to me that this junction should be prioritised. Further south on the N62, there are concerns about access onto the N52 at Kennedy's Cross. Perhaps that could be examined as well.
I want to impress on the Minister the importance of the N62 to west and south County Offaly. When I was on the midlands regional authority many years ago, we looked at a development plan for the midlands region. There seemed to be a drive to downgrade the N62 at that time. I am glad this did not happen. Along with the other councillors who were members of the authority, I fought to make sure the N62 retained its status as a national secondary route. If that status was allowed to deteriorate, it would be terribly damaging to those of us who live in the area. I must acknowledge that some excellent work has been done on the N62 between Cloghan and Ferbane in recent years. The hard shoulders on that stretch of the road are very narrow, however. I know it is particularly challenging because of the peat foundation. There have been occasions when large vehicles have been pulled off that road, in effect. That has not happened of late, thankfully, but it has been an issue in the past. I impress on the Minister the need to prioritise the N62 in the interests of the west Offaly area.