THE FUTURE of a mutli-million euro new road outside Newcastle West has reached a “critical stage” as Limerick County Council begin private negotiations to purchase land for the project, officials have said.
The future of the radical scheme to build a new section of the N21 near Barnagh now hangs on the council’s ability to reach indvidual purchase agreements with 15 local land owners.
The new carriageway, which will cost in excess of €5 million, will replace a deadly stretch of road which claimed the lives of five people in 2010.
While the National Roads Authority (NRA) have indicated that funding will be made available for the project in next year’s roads budget, the council need to have all necessary land acquired by the end of the year in order for construction to proceed.
Ger Carey of the Mid-West National Road Design Office, who are overseeing the project on behalf of Limerick County Council, said that there is a “very, very tight time scale” in place for the new road, and that the plans have reached a “critical stage”.
Mr Carey said that there are currently “ongoing negotiations” between the county council and local land owners, but added that no agreements have yet been reached.
The council are pursuing the land acquisitions privately, and not through the compulsory purchase order (CPO) process, on the basis that it will allow the road to be built quicker.
However if the council fail to reach an agreement with even one land owner, construction is likely to be delayed by at least a year while the CPO process takes place.
Mr Carey said that while the NRA have indicated that funding will be available for the new road next year, there is “no guarantee” that this will be the case in the future if the project is delayed.