Tuesday, 15 November 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Senator for raising this matter, which I am taking on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Ryan. The Minister for Transport has responsibility for overall policy and Exchequer funding for the national roads programme. Once funding arrangements have been put in place with Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, and in line with the national development plan, NDP, the planning, design, improvement and upgrading of individual national roads is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. TII ultimately delivers the national roads programme in line with Project Ireland 2040, the national planning framework and the NDP.
In the new NDP, launched in October 2021, approximately €5.1 billion is earmarked for new national road projects until 2030. The funding will enable improved regional accessibility across the country, as well as compact growth, which are key national strategic outcomes. The funding will provide for the development of numerous national road projects, including the completion of projects which are already at construction stage and those close to it, as well as the development of a number of others. Exchequer funding under the new NDP will also facilitate continued projection and renewal of our national roads infrastructure, including motorways, in line with Government policy.
The N4 Dublin to Sligo road is a national primary route which connects to the N5 to Westport and the N6 to Galway and Athlone. It is a critical strategic corridor from Dublin to the north-west region and Border counties. The project is 54 km in length and connects Mullingar in Westmeath to Roosky in Longford. The existing route is a single carriageway road that passes through, or close to, several settlements, including Ballinalack, Rathowen, Edgeworthstown, Longford and Newtownforbes. Through the provision of reliable transport infrastructure, the project would improve connectivity between Dublin, Sligo and the north west. The proposed project would enhance regional accessibility and improve road safety along the route. This project is intended to support the economic performance of the local and wider region through the provision of improved transport infrastructure, while minimising the environmental impact.
The project has reached the route options selection phase. Initially, TII was unable to provide an allocation for this project in 2022, given the level of funding available for major road projects. However, funds became available early in the year and it was possible to provide a reallocation in order to progress the options selection phase. As a result of this, the options selection process was reactivated. Studies were subsequently undertaken in relation to various environmental disciplines and additional appraisal was carried out to take account of the national investment framework for transport in Ireland, NIFTI, which was published in December 2021. It is expected that an emerging preferred route corridor will be published in quarter 1, 2023, and that this route options selection process will be completed in quarter 2, 2023.