Firstly, I would like to explain that, as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design, construction and development stages of individual road projects is a matter for
(a) the relevant road authority (i.e. local authorities) in relation to local and regional roads, or
(b) Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned, in relation to national roads.
The National Development Plan (NDP) provides the strategic and financial framework for the national roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027. In the ten years, over €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network.
Having consulted with TII, I can provide the following information and update to the Deputy on the Bonagee Link Road project, also referred to as the Letterkenny Relief Road:
The Bonagee Link project, as referenced, is a legacy project proposal. All work on this historical scheme is now superseded and any development progressed previously, has been overtaken by newer project appraisal and project management requirements.
The concept and goals of the ‘Bonagee Link Road’ have been included and developed as an integral part of Section 2 of the current Trans European Network-Transport (TEN-T) Priority Route Improvement Project.
The N56/N13/N14 Letterkenny to Manorcunningham scheme is the current project dealing with the N56/N14 link across the River Swilly.
In 2016, Donegal County Council commissioned a Corridor Needs Study on the TEN–T Comprehensive network within Donegal. This network extends from the Leitrim County boundary in the south of the County to the County border with Derry in the northeast and includes the N14 Letterkenny to Lifford road.
The Donegal TEN-T project is an important project for the entire County and indeed for the whole northwest region. It involves completing three new sections of National Road Network in Donegal under the collective heading of the TEN-T Priority Route Improvement Project, as I have mentioned.
Essentially the overall TEN-T project includes :-
Section 1: N15/N13 Ballybofey – Stranorlar Bypass;
Section 2: N56/N13/N14 Letterkenny to Manorcunningham including the upgrade of the Dual Carriageway as well as a new N56 link road crossing the River Swilly ( locally referred to as "Bonagee Link" or part of the Letterkenny Relief/Ring Road);
Section 3: N14 Manorcunningham to Lifford Realignment Scheme including the link to A5/Western Transport Corridor in Northern Ireland.
The objectives of the three schemes are consistent with the National Planning Framework (NPF) 2040 and the core National Strategic Outcomes and priorities as stated in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018 to 2027. The projects themselves are individually listed in the NDP.
The Donegal TEN-T project is well advanced through the route selection phase. The Emerging Preferred Route Corridors were presented to the public on all three Sections earlier this year. It is anticipated that the Options Selection Report will be finalised before the end of 2019.
Further design, including site investigations, surveys and more consultations with affected landowners will continue through 2019 and 2020.
It is intended to complete preliminary design and be in a position to request approval to publish the Compulsory Purchase Order and Environmental Impact Assessments Report for the entire project by mid 2021.
The TEN-T Priority Route Improvement project will have many benefits including:
- Improved road safety;
- Improved journey times;
- Improve the local environment through urban bypass;
- Significantly improve local and regional connectivity and address infrastructure deficit for regional growth and development distribution.
TII has provided an allocation of €2.5m in 2019 to Donegal County Council to progress planning and design work on the TEN-T project.
In addition, with the support of DTT&S and TII, Donegal County Council was recently recommended for co-funding, under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Transport 2019 call for proposals, for its TEN-T Priority Route Improvement Project. The total eligible value of the project stage (design and development to EIS/CPO) is €8.67 million, of which 50% or €4.335 million has been recommended for funding under CEF. The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) will shortly finalise and sign a grant agreement with the Council.