Last week Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar turned the sod on the only major road project starting in the country this year, the N5 Ballaghaderreen Bypass scheme.
The bypass will remove a major bottleneck on the N5 and will benefit, motorists, hauliers and the people of Ballaghaderreen. The bypass will take two years to construct at a cost of €59 million to the Exchequer.
Attendees at the sod-turning included Chairman of the National Roads Authority Peter Malone; Mayor of Roscommon Tom Crosby; and Charles Wills, Chairman of Wills Brothers civil-engineering contractors, who successfully tendered for the project.
Minister Varadkar admitted that the event was more enjoyable than most he’s attending these days. “It’s a welcome break from being the Grim Reaper, telling people projects aren’t going ahead,” said the Minister, who also quipped that he was thinking of taking the shovel he used to turn the sod home, suggesting it might be a while before he gets to turn another one.
Acknowledging that works on roads in Strokestown, Castlebar and Westport were still needed, Minister Varadkar told The Mayo News he was hopeful that the freeing-up of State assets in the future would lead to more projects starting in these areas.
“Hopefully State assets will be freed up, and I guarantee I’ll be the first person knocking on the door for my share,” said the Minister.
Speaking in relation to possible works on the Castlebar to Westport road, the Minister noted that it would be ‘an expensive one’, quoting a figure of €250 million.
The Minister went on to explain that although these roads were in need of work, the ‘shovel ready’ projects had to be started first.
“With the sale of state assets we’re going to reinvest in roads and if we get that happening we can then justify investing in those roads that aren’t shovel ready,” said Mr Varadkar, adding that the Gurteen road was number two on the list, as land had now been purchased for the project.
The Minister said the Ballaghadereen bypass was ‘crucial for everyone’, and added that it was critical for tourism in Roscommon and Mayo
Also speaking about the road project, Chairman of the National Roads Authority, Peter Malone said the bypass would help motorists travel on safer roads and ‘give the people of Ballaghadereen their town back’. For far too long it had been a traffic bottleneck, he said.
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