6 July 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The preferred route corridor of the N2 Clontibret to Northern Ireland Border Road Scheme was revealed to the members of Monaghan Co Council on Monday.
Steve Wallace from project consultants Grontmij unveiled the chosen 400-metre corridor – the green/red route from among the options previously outlined for the scheme – detailed maps of which will be available for public inspection at an information display to take place in Monaghan’s Four Seasons Hotel on Tuesday, July 10 next from noon until 10 pm.
In the route description of the corridor presented to the members, it was stated that the option chosen initially runs from Clontibret in a north-westerly direction passing to the south-west of Castleshane, before crossing the existing N2 near the townland of Cormurphy and continuing to Cordevlis.
The corridor then runs in a north-westerly direction, crossing the N12 and Ulster Canal near the townland of Crowey, to the north-east of Monaghan Town and the Blackwater River at Faulkland (Upper) to Mullabrack. From there it runs in a northerly direction towards Drumcaw where it runs along the western edge of Drumcaw Lough and then passes Derryhallagh where it crosses the existing N2 directly north of Corracrin.
Crossing the Mountain Water River and bypassing Emyvale to the west of the village at Drumully, the corridor then veers in a north-easterly direction and crosses the existing N2 between the townlands of Lenagh and Knockakirwan. It continues to the townland of Drumcondra, where after it veers in a north-westerly direction to the townland of Killydonagh where it runs northwards to the termination point at Moybridge on the Northern Ireland Border.
Some alarm was expressed at Monday’s meeting about the contents of a letter from the NRA which indicated that there would be no further funding for the Clontibret to the Border road project “for some time”, with members feeling this placed in jeopardy the €1 million needed to progress the design of the project to a narrower corridor in the region of 80-100 metres and thus free up land in the area for possible future development. It was decided on the proposal of Sinn Féin’s Brian McKenna to call on the county’s Oireachtas members to make representations to the Dept of Transport and the NRA for the allocation of the funding in question.
Outlining the background to the project and the various stages of the route selection process, Mr Wallace said that five corridors, involving 33 combined options, were initially considered, and 11 options were taken to public consultation in July 2010. These options were reviewed in the light of submissions and nine options, involving three corridors, were taken to further consultation in February of last year.
These were then appraised using traffic modelling; cost estimates were prepared and cost benefit analyses were undertaken. There was also an environment appraisal.
Mr Wallace said that a high standard, high quality route had been chosen which would allow people to travel in a safer environment. The route would bring about accident savings and generate better connectivity between Dublin, Derry and Donegal.
“It is a hatched 400-metre wide corridor into which a design can fit in the future,” he stated, pointing out that no junctions for the new road were shown on the maps being presented to the members – these would be developed in the future.
The Grontmij representative said that public comments would be taken at the information opportunity in the Four Seasons Hotel on Tuesday next. They could not enter the design stage of the project until funding was made available, but public comments would be borne in mind in the design of the route.
Sinn Féin’s Brian McKenna thanked Mr Wallace for his presentation, “even though it is almost a year late.” We welcomed the fact that the corridor chosen had taken on board the work done in relation to the by-pass at Emyvale going back ten years ago – he had serious concerns about another corridor being picked that went through “virgin territory” and would have impacted severely on landowners.
Colr McKenna expressed concern that there was as yet no funding available to reduce the 400-metre corridor down to around 100 metres. He said this road upgrade was badly needed, not just for Co Monaghan but also for people in the Donegal area and in the six northern counties.
The route corridor selection would remove the uncertainty for some people, but would increase the uncertainty among people in the 400-metre corridor because it might well restrict development in some cases, the SF representative added.
Sean Conlon, seeking more information on next Tuesday’s public feedback opportunity, asked if there was an appeals process or opportunity for people to object, or if the project was now down to the stage of Compulsory Purchase Orders.
Referring to the traffic bottleneck at Emyvale, Colr Conlon proposed that when the project developed to implementation phase, Emyvale village was the first phase of the project to be developed. That to him was a priority area.
Pádraig McNally said that while there would be a lot of people relieved by the route selection, it would increase the worries of those living along the preferred route – this would be a huge upheaval for many. They had recently developed three by-passes in Co Monaghan and they knew the life-long effects major road developments had on people – he would like to think their experience of the previous projects would be of benefit to the Co Council in this case.
Colr McNally expressed the view that if the Government could find funding to contribute to the development of the A5 Western Transport Corridor in Northern Ireland, they would have to find the funding to allow the Clontibret to the Border project to go ahead.
The South Monaghan councillor proposed that out of courtesy Monaghan Co Council should inform Donegal Co Council of where they were now at with this project. He thought Donegal could play a very useful lobbying role in the exercise and row in behind Monaghan Co Council to ensure money was obtained to bring this project to the next stage.
“The people of Donegal will get more benefit out of this development than the people of Monaghan,” Colr McNally stated. While he welcomed the ten hours of public consultation time being provided next Tuesday, he noted that they were now into holiday time and some people would not be able to take part. He thought the Co Council should nominate an engineer to be available at their offices by appointment to go through the plans for the chosen route corridor with interested members of the public.
Paudge Connolly advocated that detailed maps of the route corridor for Truagh, Emyvale, Corracrin, Castleshane, Clontibret and Tyholland be prepared and put on local display in those areas, as well as being part of the public information display taking place in the Four Seasons Hotel next Tuesday.
Colr Connolly agreed that the 400-metre corridor would impact on a lot of people for a long time. He also referred to the dangerous bottleneck situation in Emyvale, and thought the Co Council should make representations to have the project done in stages and tackle bottleneck situations such as that in the North Monaghan village. He also thought there had to be some “joined-up thinking” on the co-ordination of this project with the counterpart A5 development in Northern Ireland.
Seconding Colr McNally’s proposal that the Council write to Donegal Co Council on the project, Robbie Gallagher regretted the long drawn out process that had been involved in determining the route corridor. A corridor of 400 metres represented a parcel of ground the equivalent of two football pitches wide, and he feared that the people living there would be “sitting in limbo land for God knows how many years.”
Referring to the NRA correspondence, Colr Gallagher said that they could be sitting here for 20 years and be no further on and the people within the confines of the corridor could have their lives in limbo for that time. He believed it was imperative that the €1 million needed to reduce the corridor down to 80-100 metres was found, and called on the Oireachtas members in the county to ensure that it was obtained.
Commenting that among the main beneficiaries of this route would be people travelling from Donegal or Tyrone and heading to Dublin, Colr Gallagher appealed to as many people as possible to engage with the public consultation process.
He also pointed out that it was the Government who had determined that this route was going ahead – people should be aware of the lack of power local authority members had in relation to it.
Aidan Murray, noting that the route appeared to be taking traffic away from Monaghan Town, asked when the consultation process would end.
Mr Wallace told the meeting that the work on this particular part of the process would end next week when the public information opportunity took place, and at present there was no funding for the project beyond that. He said that what the consultants wanted to obtain next Tuesday were comments from the public on how to develop the preferred route – when the statutory process happened in the future, there would be a full CPO process and that was when objections could be received and oral hearings held for the route to be challenged.
“Opportunities for people to object to the route will be available, but not at this stage,” he pointed out. Mr Wallace said that phasing of the work had not been taken into account at this stage, but it could be a consideration at the design stage. There was every possibility that phasing of the work could happen.
He noted that the A5 Western Transport Corridor would be a dual carriageway, and the Clontibret to the Border scheme could be a dual carriageway also – that work had not yet been done, but it would be done in the future.
Mr Wallace said that comment forms would be made available to the public at next Tuesday’s information opportunity, and the public could respond using the comment forms any time up until September 30. He also pointed out that full information on the preferred route corridor would be available on the Monaghan Co Council website. For the public information opportunity the maps and drawings of the preferred route would be split up into several sections so people could see how the proposed route fitted in to their particular corner of the county.
Director of Services Damien Treanor told the meeting that members of the public who wished to come to the Co Council’s offices at the M-tek buildings would be able to meet with relevant staff and go through their concerns in relation to the road.
Acting Co Manager David Fallon said that with the selection of the preferred route corridor, two-thirds of the people who might have been affected by the project were now out of the equation. This was a strategic route linking Dublin to the north-west and Derry to Donegal – it did not just involve Co Monaghan.
“We have made representations to the Dept of Transport about going to the design stage but we have received no commitment at present,” Mr Fallon pointed out. He agreed it would be preferable to have the corridor reduced to 80 metres – to know this would give comfort to many people.
The Acting Manager said that a most extensive process of public consultation had taken place on the project, and this would continue. “It is a very emotive issue and we appreciate that,” he stated. He thought the huge engagement that had taken place with the public to date had been very fruitful and effective.
When Colr Gallagher asked Mr Fallon to clarify the role of Co Councillors in the project, he stated that this was a strategic route decided upon by the Dept of Transport and the NRA. The presentation the members had received was for information purposes, and they did not have a vote on it – the NRA in essence decided the route.
“The councillors don’t have decision-making power with regard to it,” Mr Fallon confirmed.
Correspondence received from NRA Chief Executive Fred Barry and circulated at Monday’s meeting referred to the Council’s request for funding to advance the design of the N2 Clontibret to the Border project and stated:
“The position regards funding depends on the capital budget allocations to the Authority and so it is not possible to be definitive until those allocations are announced. However, given the current economic situation and the reduced funding likely to be available to the Authority in the coming years, it should be assumed that there will be no further funding for the scheme for some time.
“It is anticipated that the Preferred Route Corridor for this scheme should be completed by the end Q3, 2012, this reducing the route corridors under consideration and in turn the impacts on planning applications.”
When the letter was discussed earlier in the meeting, prior to the presentation of the preferred route corridor selected, Colr Gallagher registered disappointment with it, and its implications for the funding request the Council had put forward to enable the reduction in size of the corridor for the project.
Colr Connolly also thought the correspondence made “very poor reading” – he did not know what the NRA’s definition of “for some time” was, but he thought it meant that funding would not be available for years to come.
Colr Connolly said that everyone wanted to make sure that the route for the project was finessed down in size, as he believed that when the route selection was determined the land involved would remain sterile for a long time to come.
Also voicing his disappointment with the NRA letter, Brian McKenna said all that was needed was €1 million to bring the route corridor down to the region of 100 metres. The NRA would certainly be getting more than that from the Dept of Transport next year.
Colr McKenna proposed that the Co Council ask its Oireachtas members to lobby the NRA for the funding needed. Noting that Fine Gael Deputy for Cavan/Monaghan Sean Conlan had previously expressed his opposition to the Clontibret to the Border project, Colr McKenna said he hadn’t heard “a dicky bird” from Deputy Conlan for some time and hoped that he would now review his position on the proposal.
The Sinn Féin representative said that the NRA should be requested to set the 1 million required aside in its budget for next year if the funding wasn’t to hand in 2011. “This is the only project that currently has the potential to offer employment in this area,” he remarked.

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