Pat the Cope turns sod on the Mountain Top - N56
Mr Pat the Cope Gallagher, Minister of State for Transport today (Friday, 19th January 2007) turned the sod on the N56 Mountain Top / Illistrin road project phase 2. The contract for the project has been awarded to Noel Regan & Sons and is due to be completed in December 2008. It is being funded by the Government under Transport 21.
The 3.5kms project lies on the N56 and is the main artery from Northwest Donegal to Letterkenny and on to the rest of the country. It stretches from the Calhame junction in Mountain Top on to Illistrin. Minister Gallagher opened phase 1 of the project last July. The two phases comprise 5kms. in length.
Speaking at today's opening, Minster Gallagher said: "This project when completed, will improve the standard of the road and enhance the traffic flow in the region. We have seen many improvements on our roads in Donegal in recent years. There has been major investment with the completion of projects such as the N56 Mountcharles and N15 Donegal Bypasses, the N15 Clar/Barnesmore, N13 Bridgend/ Northern Ireland Border and the construction of the N15 Bundoran/Ballyshannon Bypass which was opened last April."
Projects such as these, the Minister said, not only make Ireland more accessible to tourists. "The upgrade of the N56 will also improve access to Carrickfinn Airport and will help to develop the economy of the region", he stated. My announcement of Tuesday provided over €14 million for improvement works various locations along the entire N 56 route from Mountcharles to Killybegs, Ardara, Glenties, Dungloe, Gweedore, Gortahork, Falcarragh, Dunfannaghy, Creeslough and Kilmacrennan to the Mountain Top.
On the Ballybofey/Stranolar Bypass, Minister Gallagher said that the Compulsory Purchase Order and Environmental Impact Assessment (CPO/EIS) documentation is nearing completion and it is expected that it will be available in the next couple of months. "Once the CPO/EIS documentation has been published, the Council will be in a position to apply to An Bord Pleanala for approval for the scheme and I am sure that whilst An Bord Pleanala are examining submissions, the council will be in a position to initiate the preparation of contract documents", he added.
The improvement of major national routes such as the M1, N2, N3 and N4 will ensure a much-improved level of access and service for Donegal to Dublin traffic. The N2 National Primary Route - currently the subject of major investment - is the main arterial route from Dublin to the northwest.
The construction of the Ashbourne, Carrickmacross and Monaghan Bypasses along with the Castleblayney Bypass scheduled to open this year will ensure that the N2 is a high quality route to and from Donegal and the North West region. All of these improvements will greatly benefit the local people from Donegal and its environs commuting to Dublin on a regular basis.
The Minister also spoke on the Northwest Gateway Initiative, which was launched by the two Governments in 2006. It included a commitment to examining the potential for joint investment in key infrastructure projects. Minister Gallagher participated in discussions with local elected representatives and others in connection with this Initiative. "I am very hopeful that intensified north south co-operation will see further significant improvement in road access to the northwest covering both jurisdictions. As the Taoiseach has said, we will pursue this issue with the same energy and determination which has delivered the upgrade of the Dublin to Belfast road", he added.
Minister Gallagher wished all involved in the road project every success.
Mr Peter Malone, Chairman of the National Roads Authority said: "A high quality network of national roads in peripheral areas such as Donegal forms a critical element in maintaining competitiveness ensuring that rural life remains a viable option. Balanced regional development is the cornerstone of the National Road Authority's (NRA) objectives under Transport 21 along with the ongoing development of the national secondary network. This will help facilitate the efficient movement of people and goods. The benefits of this scheme on the N56 will have a huge impact locally - improving safety and access from Northwest Donegal to Letterkenny and the rest of the country.
"There is more good news for the people of Donegal this year, the NRA has earmarked a cash injection of twenty-eight and a half million to the county - eight and a half of which is targeted for safety and pavement improvements. This level of funding underpins the Authority's commitment to the Border, Midland and Western region and the development of the Atlantic Road Corridor from Letterkenny through Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford."
Issued by: Veronica Scanlan 087 6430622