Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the news that a “comprehensive public consultation process will be undertaken as part of the review” into the N52 Ardee by-pass.
Teachta Adams said: “However, I am concerned, from the correspondence I have received from Louth County Council, at the length of time the process of preparing terms of reference, appointing a consultant and a new tendering process might take”.
Teachta Adams received a PQ response from Louth County Council on Thursday to questions he had submitted in September.
“In September, a technical review of the Ardee by-pass proposal was announced.
“The current proposal for the Townspark Road and the Mullanstown Road would result in them becoming cul-de-sacs and the Silverhill Road having a staggered ghost island junction.
“In the last 13 years there have been significant community, demographic, sporting and environmental changes which the proposal fails to take account of.
“In addition, the bog land between the Townspark Road and Silverhill Road is now a National Heritage area which seeks to protect our natural fauna, bird life and other wildlife. The current plans pre-date this development and no environmental impact assessment has been carried out.
“I raised this issue in the Dáil and wrote to Minister Shane Ross; Louth County Council, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, asking specifically about the length of time the review would take; if changes are recommended what impact that will have on the current plans; will local residents be consulted and will funding that has been allocated be ring fenced.
“I have written to the Council asking how long the preparatory work will take and when will the Consultant will be appointed.”
In its response Louth County Council revealed that:
“Our Staff and our colleagues in West Meath Road Design Offices are currently working on a Consultants Brief, which will contain a terms of reference for the review, along with the other suites of documents required to procure consultants to bring the scheme through to completion.
“Currently these documents are not yet completed; however the crux of the review will consider the junction strategy for the scheme and the facilities for vulnerable road users.
“The review will commence immediately on appointment of a Consultant. If the outcome of the technical review warrants a change to the layout of the current scheme then this will require Planning Consent.
“The current estimate is that that the scheme would go to tender for construction in twelve to eighteen months depending on the statutory procedures and outcomes of same, however we will endeavour to reduce this time scale where possible
“A comprehensive public consultation process will be undertaken as part of the review to ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to engage in an open and equitable process.
“The ring-fencing of monies for the scheme is a matter for TII. Louth Co. Council receives an annual budget for schemes from TII, the extent of which varies dependent on what phase the scheme is in. TII have indicated that they will provide funding for the N52 Ardee by-pass as project expenditure occurs.”