I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte. I know this is not her area, but I acknowledge that the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is at an important meeting and could not make it.
I want to raise the issue of the funding for the N11-M11 scheme. It was a project that was being funded under the Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, allocation announced recently. It was funded for phase 1 and phase 2. Phase 1 started in 2018. The project was to deal with the huge traffic congestion on the N11 we experience in Wicklow. It has been acknowledged by TII that the N11 is not fit for purpose, that the traffic volumes exceed efficient operating capacity, that there are issues with safety and that the road is hazardous, having a collision rating twice the average. That is why it was so fundamental that there was funding.
As I said, an initial project, comprising phase 1 and phase 2, was funded. When we saw the allocation for 2022, it appeared that the funding for the project had disappeared. There was no mention of it. It has completely fallen off the radar and there is no clarity on what happened with the funding, why it was pulled and whether it will be reinstated.
The issues with the N11 are interesting because major consultation on the project was carried out. The public clearly said from the start of the process that they did not want more road; rather, they wanted the road to be made safe and they wanted public transport. Public transport is a major issue for people in north Wicklow because we do not have enough of it. It appeared that was the conclusion reached by the consultants that carried out this project, in conjunction with Wicklow County Council.
That seemed to be the conclusion they were coming to as well. At the end of phase 2, they expressed their belief that this project was about maximising the existing infrastructure, making it safe and ensuring there was suitable public transport alternatives, such as bus corridors. Now it seems that has all disappeared which is a concern for people in the area. In particular, the issue of the bus route is a major concern.
There is a parallel project, the interim bus corridor project, because obviously the major scheme would take several years to complete. I am also unsure as to what is happening with the funding for that interim bus project. It would appear that €1.2 million has been set aside for it but I believe that is only for the area within the remit of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and will not lend itself to any major expansion of a bus corridor in the Wicklow area which again is a major issue. Anyone who has travelled that road will know that there are major roadblocks there. The congestion causes major problems to commuters every day.
As I mentioned, public transport needs to be a major part of the solution. Unfortunately, Government Members within the constituency appear to be using this as an opportunity. There is considerable spin, indicating that there is major investment in public transport in Wicklow. There is no major investment in public transport in Wicklow. There are no timelines or funding plans for the major initiatives. They are essentially just words written in a document that stretches out to 2042. There is major development in north Wicklow and in Wicklow in general. We need the public transport and the infrastructure to match that development.