€12m upgrade for dangerous Downs dual carriageway

The eight kilometres of “substandard” dual carriageway between the Mullingar Park Hotel and Mary Lynchs is to get a €12m safety overhaul, it was revealed this week (January 18 ).

In a presentation to councillors at the County Buildings, a representative of the engineering firm Jacobs, Nick Curran, set out the plan his firm has been working on since 2007.

Five junctions in the stretch, most notably the Downs/Killucan turn-off, will have the central reservations closed and allow only left in-left out usage.

“This junction is sub-standard and there have been a number of accidents at the Killucan exit,” said Mr Curran.

There will be no more crossing of carriageways allowed along this stretch. A new roundabout, flyover, and slip road system will be built between Genesis and Flynns and an additional 700m of new road will access the Downs from here.

Unfortunately, no definitive start or finish times were offered but “it will be sooner rather than later,” said Mr Curran.

The Part 8 planning process, where a local authority gives itself or another State body permission, will begin next week and the plans for all the various junctions will be on public display at the civic offices in Mullingar and on the county’s website - www.westmeathcoco.ie

These plans will be on public display for six weeks, after which there will be a two week period for submissions to be made from any interested parties. It will then come back to the councillors for approval in April.

“We would expect to bring this to the NRA [National Roads Authority] in April or May for CPOs [compulsory purchase orders],” said Mr Curran. After that, it is up to the prioritising process at the NRA to asssign a start date.

The section of road was first opened in 2001 and is used by 20,000 vehicles each day. Projections suggest this will rise to close to 30,000 a day within two years.

“This plan offers significant road safety benefits and improves conditions for local residents and businesses,” said Mr Curran. “It also meets a specific target of the Westmeath County Development Plan.”

“This can’t come soon enough,” offered Cllr Mick Dollard, and this sentiment was echoed by all in the chamber.

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