Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.
As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal which are the subject of this PQ, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.
My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.
This year I gave an allocation of €100,000 to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake a detailed appraisal, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route. The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021. Preparation of the appraisal is the responsibility of the Council.
Regarding the reference by the Deputy to extending the M3 motorway to Cavan town, 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 operation of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.
TII will of course work within the overall context of Project Ireland 2040. This encompasses the National Development Plan (NDP) which has been developed by 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, over €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network.
I can advise that the continuation of the M3 motorway to Cavan Town it is not referred to in the pipeline of projects outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
However, the N3 Virginia Bypass Scheme is included among the pre-appraisal/early planning pipeline of projects in the NDP This scheme has been identified as a Strategic Investment Priority in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and NDP.
The proposed scheme will seek to remove the current inefficiencies of the existing road in terms of safety, capacity, and travel times. It is envisaged that it would also have a number of important benefits including:
- Support economic growth by increasing network capacity and reducing travel times between Dublin and the Northwest;
- Improved Road Safety by reducing frequency and severity of collisions thereby contributing to the Road Safety Authority target of no more than 25 fatalities per million population by 2020;
- Environmental improvements in noise, air and water quality for Virginia Town and Lough Ramor (proposed Natural Heritage Area);
- Improved access to the National Road network for the towns of Ballyjamesduff and Bailieborough.
The project pre-appraisal plan for the Virginia Bypass has been approved by the economic evaluation unit within my Department and TII has provided an allocation of €600k to Cavan County Council this year to progress planning and design work on the project. Cavan County Council has advertised the tender competition for Technical Consultancy Services to progress the scheme through phases 1-4 of the Project Management Guidelines and expect to receive the tenders on 21st May 2019.
This was scheduled to occur yesterday and my Department will receive an up-date on the outcome of that process in due course.