Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Road Improvement Schemes
Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire go dtí an Teach. The Minister is welcome and I thank him for his attendance.
I refer to phase 3 of a project to remove bad bends on the N2, the Dublin to Derry road, along the stretch from Monaghan town to Emyvale.In 2017, Transport Infrastructure Ireland allocated €600,000 towards this project, which will be phase 3 up as far as Emyvale village. Unfortunately, this will not allow Monaghan County Council to go to tender, which is very disappointing as the council is ready to go with its documentation and all it needs is the go-ahead from Transport Infrastructure Ireland to do so.
As the Minister is aware, the N2 is a particularly busy stretch of road way. It takes traffic from Donegal, Derry and Tyrone to Dublin so it takes all the North-South and South-North traffic on a daily basis and the numbers are very high. There are many dangerous bends and corners that need to be removed. It is a small enough project as it is only 3.5 km long. It is slightly ironic that we are discussing this stretch of road way this afternoon. I am disappointed and very saddened to report to the House that before lunch time, I learned of a fatality on this stretch of road. I take this opportunity to extend my sympathy to the family involved. It is a very dangerous stretch of road and the corners need to be removed as a matter of urgency. I ask that a fund be made available to Transport Infrastructure Ireland and that the Minister consider allocating funding so that this job can move to tender. Failing that, I would ask the Minister to give a commitment to the House this afternoon that this road will be committed to in 2018.
I thank Senator Gallagher for raising this very important issue. I was not aware of the fatality to which he referred but I join him in expressing my sympathy to the families involved in yet another tragedy on our roads. It is particularly sad considering that the Senator is talking about the safety aspects of this road, a subject underlined by this tragedy. The dangerous aspect of this road will be a factor when consideration is given to any changes to be made.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in respect of the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects such as the N2 is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with section 19 of the Roads Act. The Government's capital investment plan, which is entitled Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment, provides the strategic and financial framework for TII's national roads programme for the period from 2016 to 2021. As Minister,.I have to work within the capital budgets included in the plan.
In planning the construction schedule for individual projects, TII must also to take account of the annual budgets available. The focus of TII's activities during the coming years is, accordingly, being centred on the progression of the major national road schemes that were identified for development during the period of the Government's investment plan. In this regard, the proposed N2 Slane bypass has been included in the plan among those schemes that are planned to commence during the period subject to necessary approvals. Funding totalling €1.2 million has been provided by TII in 2017 to prepare a new design for the scheme. Within the available finding, I understand TII is hoping to progress minor road improvement schemes on the N2 during the period of the plan. These schemes involve the realignment and-or widening of the existing single carriageway road and include the N2 Monaghan to Emyvale Improvement phase 3 scheme where land acquisition and finalisation of tender documentation is ongoing. In addition, road pavement overlay and safety schemes were completed on the N2 in 2016, including sections of the route at Balrenny to Knockmooney in County Meath and Emyvale village in County Monaghan.Safety works at Blakestown Cross in County Louth are anticipated for completion in February 2017. TII also advises that Monaghan County Council appointed consultants last year to review the safety aspects of the existing N2 between Ardee and Monaghan. The findings of this review are being examined.
On the safety issue, because today, sadly, it is so topical and important, last year Monaghan County Council appointed consultants to report on safety on the N2 between Ardee and Monaghan. The short-term measures outlined have been identified and I will provide the table. These proposals must go before Monaghan County Council for approval. Until approval is received no works can proceed at these locations. The focus at present is to get the short-term proposals under way before medium or long-term proposals can be delivered.
I thank the Minister for his response. As he has outlined, we have a serious problem on the stretch of roadway from Ardee to the Border. Unfortunately, fatalities occur there too often. It is ironic and sad that as we discuss this issue there was a fatality earlier this morning. It highlights the urgency attached to this particular stretch of roadway. I do not know the number of fatalities, but over the past two years the number of fatalities on this stretch of roadway is way above the national norm. This is something we should treat as a matter of urgency. I urge the Minister to focus his efforts and those of the Department on this, so something can be done with this stretch of roadway to ensure the citizens who travel on it can do so in a safe manner.
I thank the Senator and reassure him road safety and, consequently, the identification of roads will be a high priority. When this is being considered, the tragedies which have occurred will be a matter of serious consideration.