I would like to explain that as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding of the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015, the planning, design and construction stages of individual national road projects are matters for Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.
Within the overall context of Project Ireland 2040, the national development plan, NDP, has been developed by the Government to underpin the successful implementation of the new national planning framework, NPF. This provides the strategic and financial framework for TII’s national roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027. In the ten years covered by the plan, more than €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network.
In County Donegal, the TEN-T comprehensive road network runs from the Leitrim county boundary on the outskirts of Bundoran in the south of the county to the Northern Ireland Border with Derry in the north east of the county at Bridgend on the outskirts of Derry city. It involves sections of the N13, N14 and N15.
In 2016 Donegal County Council commissioned a corridor needs study on the TEN-T comprehensive network within Donegal. The study identified projects in Donegal that are necessary to improve the TEN-T comprehensive network to the required standard in compliance with the TEN-T regulations. The outcome of the study identified a priority list of schemes.
The project consists of improvements and realignment of three sections of the national road network. These are the N15 and N13 Ballybofey to Stranorlar bypass; the N56, N13, and N14 Letterkenny bypass and the Letterkenny to Manorcunningham dual carriageway; and the N14 Manorcunningham to Lifford realignment scheme, including the N14 and N15 link to the A5 western transport corridor in Northern Ireland. As I have previously outlined, in the context of Project Ireland 2040, these projects are identified as strategic investment priorities in the NPF and the NDP.
Feasibility studies for the priority schemes commenced in 2017 and the route selection process is ongoing. Public consultations on identified route options for all these priority schemes were held in April and May 2018 in Letterkenny, Lifford and Ballybofey. The short-listed route corridors have been evaluated and assessed and the emerging preferred route has now been identified for each of the schemes.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
The emerging preferred routes were presented at the public consultations, which took place in February 2019. Following these consultations, further confirmation and refinement will establish the preferred route corridor for each scheme, which I understand will be presented to the public in the third quarter of 2019. In advance of this the design team intends to give a presentation on the preferred route to the elected members. Donegal County Council is the sponsoring agency. When the preferred route corridors are established the next phase will be to move to planning and design and subsequently to the appropriate approvals procedures in accordance with the public spending code and Government approval.
I will now refer to the benefits of the scheme. These schemes are of critical importance to this isolated north-west Border region. They are important in meeting the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, enabling regional growth and in the context of developing a city region encompassing Derry, Letterkenny and Strabane. The project will significantly improve access to essential services like primary healthcare in Dublin, Derry and Galway, as well as access to the principal international gateways in Knock, Shannon, Foynes and Dublin, as well as Belfast, Derry and Larne in Northern Ireland. The project is key in delivering the national policy objectives of developing strong and connected rural communities and economies.
With regard to funding, TII has allocated € 2.5 million to Donegal County Council this year to progress planning work on these projects.