The ‘not funny’ N5 comedy

De Facto

NEW-ROAD WOES Local Westport residents and Lodge Road users have articulated numerous pressing issues with the N5’s Cogaula Flyover and its stretch of road – also known as ‘the Sheeaune Ski Piste’. Pic: Paul Mealey

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

There’s a comedy trio on tour across parts of west Mayo, for a stretch of about 25 kilometres. It’s called the N5 Roadshow, around 20 kilometres of dual carriageway and over 5 kilometres of single carriageway from Westport to Turlough. The production has been on the road for several years or so at a cost of almost €250 million. Not to worry, it’s taxpayers money!
It’s hard to think that in such a relatively short distance so many local communities could be negatively affected by the attitudes, incompetence and sheer arrogance of the project’s developers.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is the road’s promoter, Mayo County Council (National Roads Office) is the project agent and the main construction company is BAM Wills JV. The new road is due to open in April.
Over recent weeks, this paper has carried stories about residents’ concerns in Islandeady, Breaffy, Sheeaune, Cogaula and Cloondeash (outside Castlebar) and other areas. These concerns include the state of the surrounding roads used by contractors to build the new road; the erection of a huge mound of earth in Islandeady; the width of the road under the Lodge Road flyover; and other damages incurred during the new road works. Worries about aspects of the development in other parts of Islandeady and Breaffy have also created a lot of unease with residents.
And that’s before those of us affected by the Cogaula Flyover (aka the Sheeaune Ski Piste) have had our say, or before Sheeaune residents respond to Mayo County Council’s breach of contract because it failed to carry out works agreed. Thanks to the Cogaula Flyover the first ice of winter locked us all into our homes, as we were all unable to use the road. Not a pinch of salt was supplied by the council that weekend.
TII, take note, we have serious road-safety concerns with the Cogaula Flyover.
Driving from the Castlebar Road over the flyover your field of vision ahead is seriously curtailed by the bend and slope of the flyover. You cannot see oncoming vehicles until they are ‘on top’ of you. There is concern over the road camber. The safety barriers do not go all the way down the flyover, meaning any vehicle out of control will end up in a stream/ditch.
While there is a footpath on top of the flyover it doesn’t extend either side of it. The flyover gradient is too steep. Some vehicles have difficulty negotiating the climb. The height of the flyover from ground level is several metres above the height of the old road. All the surrounding roads have pothole ‘beauty spots’ because of the construction traffic.
A major concern in Sheeaune is the positioning of a lay-by close to people’s homes. At the N5 oral hearing some years ago, following objections and observations by Sheeaune residents, Mayo County Council agreed to relocate the lay-by further away from any houses.
Other matters of concern were also raised at that time. After negotiations, agreement was reached between the council and residents. Our objections and observations were signed off as ‘solved’ when we signed a legal contract on January 21, 2014, to that effect with Mayo County Council (acting on behalf of TII), who agreed the lay-by would be relocated and mitigating measures would be put in place to allay our other concerns.
Imagine our horror recently when the lay-by was constructed in its original location, close to houses. When we contacted Mayo County Council we received a letter of apology, stating that ‘this commitment was not transferred to the contract and at this stage it is too late to change the locations of the laybys’. This is a breach of contract and unacceptable.  
It is a comedy of errors, but it is not funny.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne recently echoed residents’ concerns, warning that the new road will not open until outstanding issues are resolved. Residents have suffered untold worry, angst and concern alongside dust, dirt and delays, all because of a pothole mentality by the N5 promoters.
With State-agency brains, public-service brains and private-industry brains in the same pot, one would expect a little more common decency, respect and cop on.