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 roads programme for the period from 2018 to 2027. In the ten years, over €11 billion will be invested in the overall road network.
The National Development Plan (NDP) identifies two categories of national road improvement projects
The first covers projects to advance to construction, subject to the satisfactory outcome of project appraisal and development consent. The second relates to projects at pre-appraisal and early planning to be assessed, to develop a pipeline of suitable projects. Advancing projects in the second, pipeline. category will be subject to prioritisation within the overall national road programme and funding.
Having consulted with the relevant authorities, I can provide the following information and update to the Deputy on the Bonagee Link Road project, also referred to as the Letterkenny Inner Relief Road.
- In Co. Donegal the Trans European Network-Transport (TEN–T) Comprehensive road network runs from the Leitrim County Boundary (on the outskirts of Bundoran to the Border with Derry in the Northeast at Bridgend, on the outskirts of Derry City, and 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 to improve the TEN-T Comprehensive network to the required standard under TEN- T regulations. The Study identified a priority list of schemes. It recommended three priority projects to advance:
- N15/N13 Ballybofey – Stranorlar Bypass
- N56/N13/N14 Letterkenny Bypass, and Letterkenny-Manorcunningham Dual Carriageway
- N14 Manorcunningham-Lifford Realignment, including the N14/N15 link to the A5 in Northern Ireland
The Bonagee Link Road, or the Letterkenny Inner Relief Road, forms part of the proposed Letterkenny Bypass.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has provided an allocation of €2.5m in 2019 to Donegal County Council to progress planning work on priority national road improvements projects that were identified in the study on the TEN-T Network I mentioned. These projects are identified as Strategic Investment Priorities in the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the NDP. Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) 2014-2020 Transport calls for proposals 2019, Donegal County Council applied for funding for the TEN-T project and have recently been successful in their application for funding for planning work under the 2019 call.
Feasibility Studies for the priority schemes commenced in 2017 and the route selection process is ongoing. Public consultations on identified route options were held in April and May 2018 in Letterkenny, Lifford and Ballybofey.
An Emerging Preferred Route Corridor for each section has now been identified. Public Consultations on these Emerging Corridors took place in February 2019. A public display of the Stage 3 Preferred Options will be organised for later this year.
It can typically take 8 to 13 years to bring a major project from conception to completion. There is no timeframe fixed yet for completing the Bonagee link road project, as it will need to obtain both Business Case approval and Planning Consent and will be subject to the availability of funding in the future and the of course the necessary approvals.
The specific preferred route selection process is on-going. However, you may wish to note that update information may be available on the project website, http://donegal-ten-t.ie/