Tuesday 20 August 2019

New Ross bypass going ahead – a decade later

IT IS almost a year since major uncertainties loomed over the fate of the New Ross bypass, and 10 years since the original announcement.

Last August it was reported that a 'question mark' had been placed over the roadway, with a Government spokesman saying that although the Government would like to see these PPP toll roads completed, it depended on obtaining financing from the private sector.

However, that all changed this week with the announcement by the Government that the €315m bypass of the town will take place as part of the stimulus investment for Co. Wexford.

It is more than a decade since it was announced New Ross was to be bypassed by a new 14.8km route from Jamestown to Ballymacar, incorporating a new crossing of the River Barrow between Pink Rock and Stokestown and tying in to the N30 at Corcoran's Cross.

The route was first publicly displayed in November 2001 and an early timeline set out that traffic would be travelling on the bypass by 2007 – but that never materialised.

It was April 2008 before oral hearings into the bypass compulsory purchase orders were even heard and that June an inspector's report was completed and sent to An Bord Pleanála for consideration.

In November 2009 the CPOs for the bypass, comprising a land take of approximately 135 hectares, affecting a total of 89 landowners, were published. Some 84 valid objections were received to the proposed CPOs. However, all but five of the objections were withdrawn in the course of the oral hearings.

One of the next steps was the tender process for the publicprivate partnership scheme, which commenced in March 2010 and around the same time archaeological investigations got underway.

However, serious concerns surrounding the future of the project were raised that year when An Bord Pleanála's approval of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was the subject of a judicial review initiated by Dublin man Peter Sweetman. The High Court threw out the case in July and refused leave to appeal.

Following the case the project was 're-coupled' with the Enniscorthy bypass by the NRA as it sought private investors for the modernisation of Wexford's national routes. The New Ross project had been 'decoupled' from the Enniscorthy bypass as the NRA did not wish to delay the Enniscorthy bypass if New Ross weredelayed due to a judicial review, and decided to proceed with it on a standalone basis as a PPP scheme.

To date, all ground investigation, topographical and archaeological investigations and surveys have been completed.

Up to May 2012 a total of €36m has been handed over to landholders along the routes of the New Ross and Enniscorthy bypasses.

Almost half of the property owners involved in the two motorway projects have agreed compensation paid out by the National Roads Authority. Along the New Ross bypass, 46 settlements out of 94 have been reached at a cost of €11.7m, at an average of almost €25,500 each.

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