TALKING ROADS From left: Ambrose Gaughan, Western Roads Action Committee; Louise McDonnell, Ballina Chamber of Commerce; Padraig Gibbons, Chairman, Connacht Gold; Michael Holmes, Chairman, Western Roads Committee; Michael Egan, NRA, Sean Hannick, Chairman, Council for the West, and Michael Nolan, NRA Pic: Fennell Photography
Holmes warns electorate on roads
THE chairman of the Western Roads Action Committee, Michael Holmes, has warned the electorate not to be fooled by pre-election promises in relation to major roads projects in the county.
Cllr Holmes led a delegation of the WRAC to meet the National Roads Authority (NRA) last week and after a ‘full and frank’ meeting he said it was clear it will be at least another couple of years before the N26 from Ballina to Bohola or the N5 from Westport to Castlebar are even started.
“We met with Michael Egan and Michael Nolan of the NRA and the reality is that the authority are currently focussed on providing the five main routes into Dublin city.
”Basically, it looks like it could be the end of 2009 or early 2010 before work starts on the N26 and the sorry situation with regard to the N5 is that it is not even on a list of priorities with the NRA. That means we could be looking at at least five years before work starts on that road, maybe even longer,” stated Mr Holmes.
This delay is going to cause ‘huge problems’ for landowners and farmers in that area, stated Mr Holmes, as land close to the preferred route has been sterilised by the Council.
“The problem with having a preferred route for so long is that land surrounding the road is sterilised for development and this is before even the Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) have been issued. Farmers have yet to be compensated but they are losing out already because no development is allowed on their land. Development has also been sterilised on the current N5 route so an awful lot of land in places like Islandeady is currently exempt from development.”
The five-member delegation (pictured) had what Cllr Holmes described as a ‘forthright discussion’ on road matters effecting Mayo but it did seem clear that the Government was still committed to its road-building programme in and around the Dublin area.
“We have work being done on the Charlestown bypass at present and people think that the NRA are only allowed to work on one project in the county at any one time. That is not true and it is not NRA policy.
“I remember stating seven years ago that it could be 2019 before the road from Castlebar to Westport was finished and people laughed at me but seven years later it looks like I might not have been that far off the mark. That would be a real pity but there is no point getting people’s hopes up. Making promises that cannot be kept is not the way forward,” added Cllr Holmes.