Wednesday, 13 February 2019
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Road Projects Status
I thank the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport for coming to the House this morning. As he will be aware, I have raised on several occasions the N5 project between Ballaghaderreen and Scramoge. We have had a positive announcement in terms of the project being approved by An Bord Pleanála. That is a very good step in the right direction in terms of delivering this project. However, it is crucial that capital funding is provided to deliver this project as quickly as possible.
As we all know, it is our collective responsibility to try to reduce risk. The section of road between Scramoge and Ballaghaderreen is an accident blackspot on which there have been numerous incidents and accidents. Urgent action is needed to address the issue.
This much needed project involves the construction of approximately 35 km of new road and the realignment of approximately 15 km. I use the road regularly and it is evident that there are exceptionally high volumes of traffic on it. There are major concerns about excessive speeds being used on the road, particularly in Frenchpark, Ballinagar, Tulsk and Strokestown. While An Bord Pleanála has given a green light to the project, it is now very important that capital funding is allocated to deliver it as quickly as possible. The delivery of the project will have a positive impact on road safety. It will also be important for the economic development of the north Roscommon and western region. I very much look forward to the Minister's response on the current position of the project now that we have a decision from An Bord Pleanála.
I thank the Senator for raising this topic again. I recognise that she has been to the forefront in championing this particular project and the budget allocation and construction timeframe for the N5.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in terms of the national roads programme.Under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015, the planning, design and operation of individual roads is a matter for the relevant road authority regarding local and regional roads, or for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned, regarding national roads. It is always necessary for me to preface my remarks by pointing that out because where responsibility lies on this issue is obviously a matter of great importance.
The proposed N5 Ballaghaderreen to Scramoge project is included among a number of major national road schemes that were identified for development during the first ten years covered by the national development plan. More than €11 billion will be invested in the road network and the N5 upgrade is part of this investment.
The project comprises a proposed road development of 33.4 km in length which consists of an offline type one single carriageway road that runs south-east from the southern end of the existing Ballaghaderreen bypass to tie back in with the existing N5 east of Strokestown at Scramoge. There are an additional 13 km of side roads and existing road improvements, 17 at grade T-junctions and five roundabouts to be provided as part of the scheme. The proposed route will bypass the towns or villages of Frenchpark, Bellanagare, Tulsk and Strokestown.
The scheme was approved by An Bord Pleanála in January 2019 and subject to the conclusion of the period for judicial review, the scheme may proceed to the next phase, phase 5 - enabling and procurement. Roscommon County Council in preparation has commenced the procurement of technical advisers to prepare the design and build tender documentation for the main construction contract and to manage any advance works contracts that are required prior to construction commencing. TII's project archaeologist is currently preparing tender documents for an archaeological services contract to be undertaken during 2019.
As Minister, I am, of course, keen to see the projects included in the national development plan, within the overall framework of Project Ireland 2040, progressed as quickly as possible. I am also mindful that schemes such as the N5 Ballaghaderreen to Scramoge project require necessary project approvals. In this context, the approval process includes compliance with the requirements of the public spending code and my Department’s capital appraisal framework. For a project of the scale and cost of the N5 Ballaghaderreen to Scramoge scheme, compliance with these codes and guidelines is mandatory and must be undertaken at various stages of a project, including at tender award. Since this proposed project will cost in excess of €100 million, Government approval will be required to allow Roscommon County Council to enter into a contract to construct the scheme.
The cost of the scheme is approximately €182 million. It is currently anticipated that the main construction contract will be awarded in 2020 and will take approximately three years to complete.
The Minister mentioned this project is part of the national development plan within the framework of Project Ireland 2040. We are mindful of the fact that the project needs to go through necessary approvals and that there are definite stages that need to be progress for us to physically see work progress on the project. The Minister has clearly outlined that work is under way to secure those necessary approvals, which we all know need to progress in a certain way. I would like to be kept updated on that work that is being done in the background. The Minister mentioned that the national roads regional office in Roscommon County Council is commencing the procurement of technical advisers to prepare the design and build tender documentation along with an archeologist in terms of the Rathcroghan area. That is positive but we need to know that there will be no delay in all these necessary works being put in place to ensure that the project can be delivered as quickly as possible for all of the reasons I outlined. I thank the Minister for the update.
It is my intention it will go through as soon as possible but it has to go through the necessary processes. I will certainly keep the Senator informed about that it as I know she has been interested in pursuing this project for a long time.