Mulranny Independent Councillor Michael Holmes has criticised the Government for cutting the National Roads Authority's budget for 2009 by €216 million.
The Western Roads Action Committee, a lobby group chaired by Cllr Holmes, met with the NRA in Dublin recently to discuss the current roads situation in Mayo. At the meeting they were informed of the extent of this year's cutbacks, and discovered that at least a similar amount is to be slashed from the NRA's 2010 budget. This will mean that no major road projects will commence in the county in either 2009 or 2010.
Cllr Holmes expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation: “This is extremely disappointing news, particularly given the fact that the Ballaghaderreen bypass and Phase 2 of the N26 from Bohola to Ballina were expected to start in 2009. Five years ago we were given a commitment by the then Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen, that Phase 2 of the N26 would start almost immediately. Today, however, that project is still only at An Bord Pleanála stage, and the CPO process has not commenced. Further development of this road looks like it has been shelved for the immediate future.”
Holmes went on to discuss the current situation with the Westport to Castlebar road. “That project is even further down the line, and there will certainly be no progress on it for a number of years. The NRA has said it is looking at the possibility of a dual carriageway from Westport to Bohola. However, this project is still only at planning stage, and they haven't even looked at route options yet. Realistically, it looks like it won't happen for at least another ten years.”
At the meeting, Holmes highlighted the need for funding to be made available for the N59 from Bangor to Mulranny and Mulranny to Westport. “This road is in urgent need of repair, particularly when you consider that it is a popular route for tourists completely unfamiliar with its most dangerous spots. The NRA's best offer was that it could provide some funding in 2009 for surface dressing. However, this is grossly insufficient in dealing with the problem.
“We also pushed them to provide footpaths through the village of Mulranny, absolutely essential given the level of development that has taken place in the area in recent years. Perhaps the only positive coming from the meeting was that they promised to take a serious look at this in the 2009 budget.”