Councillors at last week’s meeting of Ballina Town Council called for a workshop on the status of the N26. The workshop should be attended by Oireachtas members, the County Manager, the County Engineer and representatives from the NRA and Mayo County Council, they believe.
The workshop was first proposed last December by Fianna Fáil representative Johnny O’Malley. Cllr O’Malley complained that the proposed plan for the new route had been parked for two years and that action was urgently required to identify and plan a definitive route.
In February 2010, following an An Bord Pleanála decision to reject a plan to upgrade the N26 from Ballina to Bohola, the proposed project was scrapped. Since then some councillors believe the project has been forgotten about.
Ongoing efforts to secure funding for a re-design have been unsuccessful. Already numerous years of planning and more than €6 million has been spent on the proposed route.
Speaking at last week’s meeting, Cllr O’Malley said: “If we are talking about a redesign then you can be sure this road won’t be done be seen until 20 or 30 years from now. I believe we need to get our Oireachtas members to come in and speak to us … It’s their responsibility to tell us what’s happening, and if we have this meeting we should be reconvening in three months time to see where it is at. This has sat on a shelf for a year and nothing has happened. If we don’t do anything another year will pass.”
An equally exasperated Cllr Gerry Ginty said it still amazed him that after the millions that were spent that the NRA and An Bord Pleanála did not reach agreement on the plan. He continued, “I can’t understand how those two bodies would not have known what would or what wouldn’t have been acceptable.”
Cllr Frances McAndrew concluded by stating that she would also like to see a representative from the IDA at the workshop which is expected to take place over the next two or three months. “[The IDA] has always used the N26 as a yardstick [in relation to investment potential], so I think it would be good to show them how serious we are about addressing it.”
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