THE Adare by-pass has once again been put on the long finger, as the Minister for Transport Leo Varadker moves to rein in spending.
The proposed M20 linking Patrickswell and Cork – which is a public private partnership project - is also likely to be put on hold along with the N24 from Ballysimon to Bansha.
The proposed Adare by-pass is still being adjudicated on by An Bord Pleanala. But the National Roads Authority (NRA) has now been told by Minister Vadadker “not to commit to any project until funding is available.”
Sean O’Neill, of the NRA, said that the by-pass “would be dealt with at post-planning process and would be subject to review by the Department.”
Minister Varadker this week said the NRA would be taking all road projects to the end of their current stage of planning “and will suspend them at that point”. It would be “reckless and irresponsible” he said, to spend €20-€30m a year on planning road projects when there was no money to build them.
Paul Crowe, director of transport with Limerick County Council, said this Wednesday the council had not received any official notification about the Adare by-pass. An Bord Pleanala still has to adjudicate on the matter, he said, following objections and an oral hearing last year. However, he added: “We are very keen to see this scheme go ahead. We would be disappointed if it were suspended.”
Mr Crowe said they were still waiting for a decision from An Bord Pleanala on the M20, and a final decision must await the outcome of further public consultation on a junction at Buttevant. Fine Gael’s Dan Neville TD however said he intended lobbying Minister Varadker and the Taoiseach because of the crucial need for a by-pass in Adare.
It was not just the inconvenience of traffic congestion, he said, but he believed the lack of a by-pass was inhibiting further tourist development in the village. He criticised the vast amount of money spent on various plans over the years for a by-pass – none of which came to fruition.
He added: “I understand Fianna Fail is calling for this project to go ahead immediately but it is a pity they didn’t proceed with the project over the past 20years when it could have been done. It is easy to criticise now.”
Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins said the situation needed to be clarified.
“A lot of money has been spent in preparatory work,” he said. The by-pass was critical to infrastructure in Co Limerick and in the mid- west – and was essential for transport and for jobs and competitiveness.
Cllr Pat Fitzgerald raised concerns that land along the proposed routes for the by-pass could be “sterilised” for years if the project is suspended. The N24 Ballysimon to Pallasgreen and Bansha scheme is likely to be suspended once the current stage of planning is completed. Public private partnership projects, such as the M20, depend on restoring financial credibility in the international debt funding market, the Department of Transport said in a statement. Limerick County Council announced earlier this year that it was shelving the plan to build a new road from Adare to Abbeyfeale. Plans are currently being drawn up for a re-alignment of the N21 at Barna.