Disappointment at NRA funding
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has allocated 19.4 million euro to Donegal for 2011, millions more than last year, but the county's priority roads projects are still unfunded.
Among the projects unfunded in allocations announced yesterday were the Ballybofey and Stranorlar bypass, the N14 from Manorcunningham to Lifford, the N15 from Ballybofey to Lifford and the proposed Letterkenny relief road at Bonagee.
The allocation includes funding for works around the county, including 475,000 euro for safety improvements, 10.6 million euro for pavement and minor works, 1.6m euro for maintenance, 1.4m euro for bridge rehabilitation, and 3.8m euro for major works on the N56 from Dungloe to Glenties and from Mountcharles to Inver.
A new bridge across the River Finn to link the N15 to the new A5 dual carriageway in the north received more than 1m euro for work on design and land acquisition. A council delegation that met earlier this month with the NRA lobbied hard for major improvements to the N14 and N15, which would connect with the A5 via the bridge. At that meeting, councillors and senior roads staff were told that funding for new construction would not be available for several years.
"It's extremely disappointing but we're continuing the campaign," said Sinn Fin Cllr. Pdraig MacLochlainn, chairperson of the council's roads and transportation strategic policy committee, who was part of the council delegation. He said that the council will seek a meeting with the new minister for transport after the upcoming general election.
Fianna Fil Cllr. Dessie Larkin said the council may seek a strategic grant for the relief road, similar to the grant that funded the county's Harry Blaney Bridge. "We have to make the case of its enormous strategic importance not just for Letterkenny but the rest of the county," he said.
Labour Cllr. Jimmy Harte was also disappointed that there was no funding for the relief road. "This is despite the promises of Deputy Niall Blaney that this road would be looked after," he said. Cllr. Harte said most of the funding has been allocated to the south-west of the county.
Fianna Fil Cllr. Patrick McGowan said the Ballybofey-Stranorlar bypass is a priority for the county and beyond."Reappointment of consultants is crucial to keeping it alive and to keep it as the number one priority it has always been," he said. Pat ‘the Cope' Gallagher, MEP, welcomed the allocations but also expressed disappointment that further consultancy work for the bypass was not funded.
See more in Thursday's Donegal Democrat.