DESIGNS for a complete overhaul of the N21 between Newcastle West and Barnagh, where five people lost their lives in 2010, are to go on public display this week.
The plans for an upgrade of the main road, which will cost in the region of â‚¬5 million, will be available for viewing at the Limerick County Council offices in Newcastle West, after they were unveiled to local councillors earlier this month.
Officials hope to break ground on the new road next March, provided there are no delays with land purchases or the acquisition of funding from the National Roads Authority (NRA).
Ger Carey of the Limerick County Council road design office said that the scheme is â€œon scheduleâ€, and will be available for public viewing for the next six weeks under the Part 8 planning process, during which time all submissions on the plans will be taken into consideration and sent forward for the county managerâ€™s report on the new road.
This report is likely to be published in September, and the design for the new N21 will then be voted on by county councillors. Barring any delays or objections, it is hoped that construction can be completed by the summer of 2013.
The road will be a new, separate carriageway running alongside the existing N21, and will replace the dangerous staggered junction at Garryduff cross with a new â€˜ghost islandâ€™ crossing which will feature a slip road and turning lane.
The road will also remove the several narrow, blind bends currently in existence, and will remove local traffic and farm machinery from the main carriageway with new parallel access roads on both sides.
Officials have indicated that the scheme has the full support of the National Roads Authority (NRA), and will be included in next yearâ€™s national roads budget, despite funding constraints.
Local Fine Gael TD Patrick Oâ€™Donovan said that the â€œlong standing issueâ€ of the safety of the N21 is being â€œtaken seriouslyâ€ by the NRA, who are now fully committed to the project.
â€œIn fairness to the NRA, their attitude on this has softened considerably. The big flagship projects are done now, and theyâ€™re looking at where smaller tasks like road widening can have a critical impact.
â€œIâ€™ve known many of the people whoâ€™ve been killed in accidents on that road. I know all the people who live along there.
â€œEvery time thereâ€™s a crash, they wake up wondering whoâ€™s the latest fatality. Itâ€™s very difficult for all of them.
â€œThis new road is vitally important to all of us, and hopefully itâ€™s something weâ€™ll see soon.â€