Monday 18 December 2017

NRA admits motorway plans face long delay



THERE is no realistic prospect of the controversial Oylegate to Rosslare Harbour motorway being built in the foreseeable future due to a lack of funding, the National Roads Authority has admitted in a letter to Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey.

However, the NRA is pressing ahead with the selection of a preferred route for the multimillion Euro project with a view to having it ready when finance does eventually become available.

The news has angered the Joint Committee of Communities against the motorway, who believe the decision will result in the lives of residents, farmers and business people along the chosen route being thrown into limbo for an indefinite period of time.

The NRA letter was written by Michael Egan, the head of corporate affairs and professional services, who informed Deputy Twomey that once the preferred route is declared, the intention is to have it included in the Wexford County Development Plan and 'preserved and protected' until the exchequer funding situation improves and further progress towards advancing the scheme becomes possible.

'We recognise that there is no realistic prospect of this scheme – and others at a similar stage of development within the national roads programme – progressing to construction in the short to medium term,' said Mr Egan.

' The timescale will be dictated by the effectiveness of measures to address the debt situation and the capacity of Government to fund the roads programme in future years.'

'As you know, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is conducting a review of capital expenditure programmes. It is reasonable to expect that the review will have implications for national roads and scheme activity. We await the outcome,'

Mr Egan added that the NRA will revisit the Oylegate to Rosslare road when State finances improve and will consider the possibility of 'phased construction' in the event that the funding situation at the time does not permit the scheme to progress as a single contract.

'Route selection work is well advanced at this stage and it should not take too much longer to finalise,' Mr Egan told the Fine Gael TD, also confirming that the options being considered do include the route identified some years ago for the Rosslare Harbour Access Road.

The Joint Committee of Communities has wondered for some time why the road plan wasn't completely abandoned before given the country's dire economic situation, and is now incensed by the decision to select a route and 'freeze' it, even though the prospect of funding is remote.

' The NRA is acknowledging that there isn't money available, there will not be for the foreseeable future and in fact there may never be,' said chairman Michael Carroll.

' This is an absolutely scandalous situation which will result in people's lives being placed on hold indefinitely. It's completely unacceptable for the NRA and Wexford County Council to put people in this position,' he said.

The committee believes that the preferred route will be announced on June 27.

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