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Thursday, 19th September 2019

TDs differ on decision to review Ardee bypass

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A drawing taken from the Ardee Bypass Facts Facebook page illustrating the fears of people living in the Townspark Road and the Mullanstown Road areas about getting cut off from the town of Ardee.

A decision to review the proposed Ardee Bypass has angered Deputy Fergus O’Dowd and the Cathaoirleach of Ardee Municipal District, Councillor Dolores Minogue.

They have said that the €34m project is under serious threat following the announcement yestrday by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) of a review of the scheme with Louth County Council.

The pair issued a joint statement following the appearance of TII, Louth County Council and Cllr Minogue before the Oireachtas Transport Committee yesterday amid fears that the money for the project might be redirected.

O’Dowd said “I invited TII into the committee to drill down on their reasoning behind the request to review the project.

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“TII’s Director of Capital Programme Management, Peter Walsh, confirmed during the session that the decision was based on the specific issues concerning the proposed Mullenstown and Townspark junctions.

“I’m deeply unhappy with the statements made by TII about the review and I find it unacceptable that such an enormous project for the people of Ardee and mid Louth is being put at risk over very manageable localised issues.

O’Dowd added “I’m also appalled by Mr Walsh’s statement that the decision was not made in consultation with the CEO of TII or the Department of Transport. I have written to the CEO of TII, Michael Nolan, and the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross TD, requesting urgent meetings with a view of revoking the decision to review the scheme.”

Minogue said “I’m bitterly disappointed by the revelations, the people of Ardee have been fighting for this project for 20 years now and the fact that we may be looking at an indefinite timeline is very disappointing.

“Deputy O’Dowd and I do not accept the decision made and we will fight tooth and nail to have the decision overturned whilst addressing the important concerns of the Mullenstown and Townspark residents.”

Breathnach welcomes review

Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach said however that he was pleased that both TII and Louth County Council have are going to review the current proposal to take into account the serious concerns that require further consideration.

 “I do not wish to see any great delay in the commencement of the proposed N52 upgrade works, I fully support the concerns of the local community and reiterate that they are not against the bypass, just the proposed cul-de sacs which the current proposal would create” he said.

“In discussions in Leinster House on this issue with Minister Shane Ross, he gave an assurance that he would seek a workable solution to this issue.

“I reiterated my assertion that it is never a good idea to divide a community and this proposal would cut off a large portion of Ardee’s hinterland … from accessing the town with ease. 

“Some of the Constituents in the townlands directly affected by the current proposal say that while they are from Ardee and currently view Ardee as their home town, that the town of Carrickmacross in Monaghan will be easier to reach if the current proposal goes ahead.

“I listened carefully to the contributions from Peter Walsh, Director of Infrastructure Programmes, TII and Joan Martin, CEO Louth County Council, and both assured the Committee that the delay caused by the review of the proposal does not mean that the project will not proceed as fast as possible. 

Adams calls for N52 funding to be ring-fenced

Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams has today called on the Minister for Transport to ring-fence the funding for the by-pass.

“The N52 Ardee Bypass was first given the go ahead in 2006. This is an important project, vital to the economic well-being of Ardee, which is long overdue” Adams said in the Dáil today.

“In the last 13 years there have been significant community, demographic, sporting and environmental changes which the plan fails to take account of. Local communities which will be seriously and adversely impacted by the realignment project have campaigned for some time for the original scheme to be modified.

"The current proposal for the Townspark Road and the Mullanstown Road areas would result in them becoming cul-de-sacs and the Silverhill Road having a staggered ghost island junction. The Silverhill Road is essentially a narrow country lane which is inadequate for the substantially increased traffic it will now be expected to take, including school buses servicing the Tallanstown National School, Ardee Community Secondary School and the Ardee Day Care. The road is also prone to flooding.

"After considerable campaigning with Louth County Council and the TII a technical review of the scheme was announced. The review is to allow the project team time to fully consider the issues, which include a National Heritage area. This is welcome.

"TII also said that the funding for the Ardee Bypass may be redirected to other projects on foot of the review. This would be a grievous mistake. Ardee needs this bypass. This project has been more that thirteen years in the pipeline.

"I have written to Minister Ross, Transport Infrastructure Ireland and Louth County Council. I want to know how long the technical review will take? Will the review include meetings with the local community? And will the Minister give a commitment that the monies set aside for the N52 by-pass will be ring fenced until the review is completed?"

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