Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Ceisteanna (55)

Thomas Byrne


55. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to enhance road transportation in County Meath. [39692/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

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, development and construction of individual national road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

The National Development Plan (NDP), which has been developed by Government to underpin the implementation of the National Planning Framework, provides the strategic and financial framework for Tll's national roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027. The focus of Tll's activities over the coming years is, therefore, being directed towards the development of the major national road improvement schemes that are listed in the NDP.

Following consultation with TII, I can provide an overview of national road developments in County Meath, to which the Deputy refers.

The proposed N2 Slane Bypass is included amongst a number of major national road schemes that are identified for development during the period of the NDP. The scheme is also contained in the National Transport Authority (NTA) Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area.

The project is currently at route selection stage. Meath County Council have also commissioned a supplementary assessment of East-West options in relation to Slane. This process is well advanced and once the preferred route is identified, the scheme will be progressed through planning and design. A Business case will then be prepared for the approval of both my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform. In addition, the statutory documentation will be prepared, including the environmental impact assessment. Meath County Council have indicated that the scheme will be lodged with An Bord Pleanála in 2021, post the adoption of the new County Development Plan. TII has provided an allocation of €1m to Meath County Council for the scheme this year.

The proposed N2 Rath Roundabout to Kilmoon Cross scheme is also included amongst a number of major national road schemes that were identified in the NDP for progression through pre-appraisal and early planning during 2018. In this regard, the Project Pre-Appraisal for the proposed scheme has been approved.

This approx. 6 km scheme will address the existing operational and safety problems on this section of the N2, which has an annual average daily traffic of circa 16,000 vehicles per day and experiences considerable peak time congestion.

Meath County Council has engaged the services of Technical Advisors to commence the planning and design of the scheme. I am advised that it typically takes three to five years from this point through Phases 1 – 4 of the Project Management Guidelines, in order to have the scheme ready to submit to An Bord Pleanála for planning approval. This year, TII has provided an allocation to Meath Co. Co. of €250,000 to allow the scheme to progress to planning and design.

The N51 Dunmoe Phase 2 scheme comprises the construction of approximately 4 km of single carriageway and associated ancillary and consequential works, including the provision of side roads, accommodation works/roads, junctions, from the townland of Blackcastle Demesne to the townlands of Cruicetown and Pighill in County Meath. An Oral Hearing was held on 12th July 2018 and An Bord Pleanala confirmed the CPO for the scheme in October 2018. Meath Co Co are currently progressing the final design and tender documents and intend to go to tender for this scheme in 2020.TII has provided an allocation to Meath Co. Co. of €150,000 for the scheme this year.

Regional and Local Roads

As regards regional and local roads, the maintenance and improvement of these roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.

During the recession there were substantial cutbacks in the funding available for State grants for national, regional and local road programmes. Project Ireland 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network. Grants in the three main grant categories (Restoration Improvement, Discretionary Grant and Restoration Maintenance) are allocated based on the length of the road network within a local authority area and taking traffic factors into account.

I have been pleased to be able to allocate significantly increased grant funding to Meath County Council in respect of regional and local roads over the last two years. In this context grant allocations to Meath in 2019 total €19,676,500 which is an increase of over 45% compared to the 2017 allocation.

While the bulk of the funding for regional and local roads under Project Ireland 2040 is earmarked for maintenance and renewal works, provision has been made for grant funding towards the cost of 12 significant capital road improvement schemes. The upgrade of the Bettystown to Laytown Link Road is one of these projects. Following the confirmation by An Bord Pleanála of the Compulsory Purchase Order related to the scheme, the detailed project appraisal has now been submitted to the Department for consideration.

Funding has also been allocated this year under the Specific Improvement Grant Programme to progress proposed safety improvement schemes at Curragha junction and Phase 1 of the R162 Kilberry traffic calming scheme.