Councillors in the Finn Valley have hit out at the National Roads Authority (NRA) for providing funding for the purchase of a filling station in Letterkenny while failing to fund works for a stretch of road on a national primary route which includes an accident black spot.
Donegal County Council is awaiting a decision from the NRA on funding for a road realignment project at Blackburn bridge on the N15 between Ballybofey and Donegal town. The road has seen several fatal accidents over the years.
Councillors at the January meeting of the Stranorlar electoral area committee expressed anger that the NRA has not provided funding for the 4.7 km stretch of road.
Last month Donegal County Council and the NRA completed the purchase of the three acres site at Bonagee in Letterkenny which included a filling station on the Dry Arch roundabout. The site is vital to the progression of the Letterkenny relief road scheme.
The compulsory purchase orders for phase one of Blackburn bridge project were confirmed last August and the council now has 18 months to serve the notice to treat.
Cllr. Patrick McGowan expressed concern that the funding to complete the project has been not been granted “after all those accidents”.
“This is small remedial works that is directly as a result of fatalities. How many more people have to lose their lives before this project starts. I don’t know what it takes.”
He expressed concern that the NRA had agreed to fund the purchase of the filling station in Letterkenny for the Bonagee link rather than fund the Blackburn bridge project.
Senior executive engineer with the National Roads Design Office (NRDO) Brendan O’Donnell said the filling station was similar to any other project. He said the NRDO had looked for funding and an opportunity arose. “We considered it to be a hazard on the roundabout along with the added benefit that the link road would go through the site.”
Cllr. Frank McBrearty complained that councillors had not been informed about the purchase of the filling station and that they had heard about it through the media.
“All I hear is excuses about any road that is going to improve this area.
“The Bonagee link will not be done for a number of years. The Blackburn bridge is about road safety in that area. There does not seem to be any funding for what is needed in Ballybofey. Letterkenny is prioritised over this town. “We already lost the bypass. This is a very important project for Ballybofey and to save lives on roads because there has been a number of different accidents on that road.”
Cllr. Gerry Crawford said the Stranorlar electoral area was being “side stepped” on every important issue. “The people who are making these decisions are not sitting round this table and they are not sitting in Lifford. National politicians have to be accountable for decisions that are resulting in us getting sweet FA.”
Cora Harvey said it was “complete bs” that people thought they were going to get money for the project but money was found for the petrol station.
Cllr. McGowan said the electoral area should write to the three government deputies and ask for an explanation of what is happening at Blackburn bridge.