MORE MAYO ROAD PROJECTS NEEDED Tom Gilligan, Director of Services.
Councillors could be ‘six-feet under’ before a route for a new N58 road is approved, according to a senior official with Mayo County Council.
The comment was made by Tom Gilligan, the Director of Services with responsibility for roads, at last week’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council during a debate on the best way forward to improve the infrastructure into north Mayo.
During the debate, Cllr Jarlath Munnelly said that a new N58 between Foxford and Ballyvary was needed to link Ballina with Castlebar and work should begin on designing it.
In response, Mr Gilligan said that while he would love to see a N58 built, he does not believe it will happen anytime soon.
“I would love a new N58. There is nobody in this county who wouldn’t. My fear is we will never get it and you and I will be six feet under before there is any sod turned in relation to any new N58,” he said.
The debate on the road infrastructure in the region was prompted by Foxford councillor Neil Cruise after a design for a proposed bypass of Foxford was forwarded to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) by the Mayo Roads Design Office, without any consultation with local businesses or the community.
Cllr Cruise was angered by the lack of consultation and claimed the design is not fit for purpose and has gone down like ‘a lead balloon’ in the locality.
“I have looked at the scheme proposed and I feel strongly that it is not fit for purpose,” he said. “This proposal is high handed and the people of Foxford do not want a bypass at the moment. People feel very strongly about this and it is selling north and east Mayo very short. If this was to get traction it would ensure there would never be a new N58 and really and truly we need a new N58 to connect Ballina with the new N5,” he said.
Cllr Cruise said the location of the by-pass was in the wrong area and was at odds with a proposal passed in 2015 by the Ballina Municipal District which stated that any crossing of the Moy should be at lake river near Foxford.
Mr Gilligan accepted that the design for the Foxford by-pass should have been shown to local councillors before it was sent to the TII. However he defended the decision to forward it as there was a deficit of road projects planned for north Mayo.
“I have been saying this for a long time that in relation to road projects that we have in Mayo, once finished with the N5 which will be completed in October 2022 and N26 Clonngullane bridge in July 2022, we will be, excuse the pun, running out of road. We need more projects to be on the table to get done.
“I’m not sorry that the application has gone in for Foxford because I do believe it is something we need to look at. I do apologise that it didn’t go to the SPC and it should have. To be honest Foxford does have a traffic congestion issue … I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world to have a bypass there. It was an application that went up and the TII had to look at it and approve it and we are a long way from any kind of an announcement for a bypass for Foxford,” he said.
Neither the N26 nor the N58 featured in the recent National Development Plan and councillors around Ballina stated that an upgrade of the N26 between Mount Falcon and Foxford needs to be a priority. Members of the Roads SPC are due to meet with the TII on November 30 and Cllr Annie May Reape said that she will be raising the matter of the N26 at the meeting.