N81 Upgrade debacle: TII and Minister for Transport do complete U-turn on N81; resources and planning already done a total waste...

Rose Barrett

Reporter:

Rose Barrett

N81 pic
Cllr Gerry O'Neill, Chair of the N81 Action Group read an excerpt yesterday before the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, TDs James Lawless, John Brady and Pat Casey plus the local attendance at the Minister's visit to Blessington. Correspondence from the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, regarding the N81 Tallaght to Hollywood Cross road scheme stated: "Since the selection of the preferred route, there have been changes in the process and procedure associated with major scheme development, particularly in the area of appraisal. Whenever this major scheme is reactivated, there will be a requirement to revisit and reconsider the appraisal, business case and route selection in light of current Department requirements. The environmental assessment associated with a scheme of this type requires that any such scheme is progressed through the planning process as a single project". A furious Cllr O'Neill stated "This effectively means that years of planning, public consultation - €8m in resources - will be null and void! This is disgraceful. The TII further notes that based on the cost estimates previously prepared by Kildare County Council for the emerging preferred route, the cost for the planning, design and construction of the scheme has been updated to reflect 2018 costs and is now in the order of €271m". O'Neill continued: "We have requested the Minister and the TII before to consider proceeding at least with the CPOs which is estimated at €70m. This is the cost which the TII claim is "based on the stage of development and are subject to refinement as the scheme progresses. "If they'd proceed with the CPOs, at least farmers like the Hamiltons and other land owners wouldn't be left in limbo. To say they'll have to go through the whole process of assessment, public consultation all over again is a disgrace!" The TII wrote: "Whenever this major scheme is reactivated, there will be a requirement to revisit and reconsider the appraisal, business case and route selection in light of current Department requirements... Therefore, it is not proposed to consider the cost of sectional delivery until after the statutory process is concluded". The TII estimated the costs associated with phased construction delivery c as follows:
  • Planning and Design €8m
  • Land and property €70
  • Tallaght to Blessington Construction €145m
  • Hollywood to Blessington Construction €48m
*All estimates are high level only and may change depending on the actual route selected and the planning, design, appraisal and approval process and date of implementation.     Deputies James Lawless and John Brady with Cllr Gerry O'Neill and members of the N81 Action Group and members of Baltinglass Forum at yesterday's meeting with Minister for Transport, Shane Ross TD Yesterday Wicklow TDs John Brady (SF) and Pat Casey (FF) agreed the N81 must be prioratised and back on the agenda. Deputy James Lawless similarly supported the campaign to have the N81 allocated funding stating it impacted on commuters from Ballymore, Rathmore, Eadestown and Kilteel. All three felt the stalling of the upgrade until 2027 would be an impediment to residential growth and economic development in the area. Carmel Cashin, sec N81 Action Group also stated there were planning applications of up to 1,000 submitted for the Blessington area. "With these houses expected to generate two cars per household, the N81 can't cope with the additional capacity.... If they are refussed because of the N81, it's a disaster. Housing is so badly needed here, and remember that's only Blessington.  the deferment of the N81 upgrade will impact on the smaller communities in West Wickow and Kildare. "The infrastructure, i.e. a safer and upgraded motorway, needs to be in place first. Do it once and do it right!"