The NDP provides for a total investment of £4.7 billion, 1999 prices, over the period 2000-06 in the national road network and sets out a strategic framework for the improvement and maintenance of the network over that period. Five routes were specifically identified in the NDP for development to motorway-high quality dual carriageway along their entire length.
The NDP also provides that significant improvements will be carried out on other major national primary routes, including the N4 and N5. The NRA, in conjunction with the relevant local authorities, is now pursuing the detailed programming of this work and will determine appropriate road types in that context based on the roads needs study, current and projected traffic growth and, when completed, the national spatial strategy. In relation to the N4-N5, I am informed by the NRA that there has been significant improvement of this route in recent years through projects such as the Collooney to Sligo dual carriageway; Mullingar bypass – dual carriageway; the Curlews bypass; the Longford bypass, and the Lucan-Kilcock motorway. Enhancement of these routes is continuing through projects under construction such as the McNeads Bridge dual carriageway, Drumsna – Jamestown and Cortober-Lough Key. Projects well advanced in their planning or close to commencement include the Strokestown-Longford scheme, the Ballaghadereen bypass, the Sligo inner relief route and the Kilcock-Kinnegad motorway. The value of current and prospective improvement work on the N4-N5 route during the NDP period stands at over £600 million.
All these improvement works are designed, in accordance with the roads needs study, to deliver a level of service involving average inter-urban speeds of at least 80 kilometres per hour; in practice this level of service will be frequently bettered. The programme is also designed to cater for increasing traffic volumes over the period to 2019.
While there is no proposal at this stage to amend the provisions of the NDP, the need for the development of new routes to augment those mentioned in the plan, including the N4 and N5, will be kept under review over the period to 2006 and, in particular, in the perspective of the mid-term review of the plan which will take place in 2003. Where the need for a new route is established, funding will be provided for the advance planning and design of the route in the plan period with a view to bringing the project to construction within an appropriate timeframe.