Plans to improve the local road network under a €750 bn EU-wide programme will move closer to design phase later this year.
Dublin’s plans to improve three sections of the national network in Donegal and bring them up to Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) compliance standard are well-advanced, said Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross.
This will include realigning the N14, which runs behind Derry from Manor to Lifford, to ensure it connects seamlessly with the A5.
He said: “In Co. 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 NI 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.”
He advised how a 2016 study commissioned by Donegal Co. Council had identified the three roads as priorty schemes under TEN-T.
“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 NI,” he said.
Deputy Ross said final options are being worked on and are likely to be presented in the third quarter of 2019.
“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,” he said.
From concept to construction the project will take between eight and 13 years to complete. The planning cost from 2018 to 2022 is estimated at €6 million while the working cost is €400 million. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has allocated €2.5m to progress planning this year.
“These schemes are of critical importance to this isolated NW 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,” said the minister.
Sinn Féin’s Dessie Ellis said he approved of the developments but insisted they proceed with community support: “While no-one in Donegal is opposed in principle to having these vital upgrades carried out, there are real concerns over the possible effects on the local communities of certain sections of the preferred route options which have emerged.”
He continued: “Traders in Ballybofey and Stranorlar fear the absence of a road link to the corridor will decimate trade in the towns. Similarly, homeowners and farmers have expressed anger at the prospect of having their homes razed to the ground or farmlands bisected to make way for a few kilometres of tarmac.”