The €18.7m N56 Coolboy to Kilmacrennan scheme has been officially opened.
The 3.1km scheme, which has seen the removal of the notorious Blue Banks bends, was opened today.
The new road is on a key transport corridor to the north west of Donegal including Glenveagh National Park, Donegal Airport and the Gaeltacht.
Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, and Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Nicholas Crossan officially opened the scheme.
Alongside the new road, a two-metre shared footway and cycle track has been created on both sides of the road and it is hoped that this new shared track will be extended to Letterkenny.
Cllr Crossan said the 3.1km scheme “is a major infrastructural project and is of significant benefit and value not only to the local community in terms of improving safety and connectivity but also to the entire county and region”.
Minister McHugh said the completion of multi-million euro roadworks is a huge sign of the Government’s commitment to improved transport infrastructure and safer journeys.
The Minister said: “I made a very strong case to Government in 2017 that it made sense to do these extensive roadworks while a new water main was being laid by Irish Water from Loch as Allt to Letterkenny. On top of that I also pushed for the greenway element from Coolboy to Illistrin.”
Director of Roads and Transportation with Donegal County Council John McLaughlin said the delivery of the scheme is the culmination of over eight years work by the Donegal National Roads Office and is a continuation of the N56 Mountaintop to Illistrin project completed in 2009.
“The original road had a narrow carriageway, no significant verge and a number of poorly aligned junctions, accesses and entrances. The new scheme involved the widening and realignment to a seven-metre carriageway with hard strips and verges. A shared footway/cycle track on both sides of the new road caters for all vulnerable road users, cyclist and pedestrians and is a significant new local amenity.”
Mayor of the Letterkenny Municipal District Cllr John O’Donnell acknowledged the importance of the project in delivering on the economic development agenda for the county and paid tribute to the support and co-operation of the local community.
“Development of major infrastructure projects such as this can be a long process. Individuals and communities are always affected by the disruption caused and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support and co-operation of local residents, businesses and motorists in the development and delivery of this scheme. I look forward to having the next phase of this project from Doonwell to Termon prioritised."
Chief executive of the council Seamus Neely said: “This project represents an investment of over €18m. Since this road opened in May, road users have seen a major improvement and traffic can now flow freely and safely. It is the third section of this important stretch of road to be completed in the last 10 years starting from the outskirts of Letterkenny at the Mountaintop and now finishing in KIlmacrennan. This is a major piece of infrastructure for Donegal and will go a long way in enabling the county to capitalize on opportunities such as the continued development of tourism, supporting business development and job creation.”
Works on this scheme commenced in January 2018 and took 18 months to complete. BAM Civils Ltd were the main contractor, RPS Consulting Engineers were the Designer and construction works were supervised on behalf of Donegal County Council by Barry Transportation. The project was managed on behalf of Donegal County Council by the National Roads Office in Donegal town.
Rev Cannon Harry Gilmore and Rev Patrick Dunne were also officiated at the official opening of the road.