No Government commitment to upgrading of East West route Cootehill/Dundalk

east west

It is most disappointing that I continue to get the same non committal reply from the Transport Minister in relation to the urgent need to upgrade the Cootehill/Shercock/Carrickmacross/Dundalk route.

I have repeatedly pointed out to Minister Ross that this particular road carries a very heavy volume of heavy traffic and is a very important arterial route for the central border region. Unfortunately it was omitted from the Government’s National Development Plan as well.

With particular challenges for the border region due to Brexit essential infrastructure such as this East West route should be prioritised.

Below are replies to the most recent Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann on this issue –

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For Written Answer on : 24/04/2018

Question Number(s): 508 Question Reference(s): 17730/18

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport

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QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to progress a road project (details supplied) in view of its importance to a number of counties; if this project will be considered for specific funding in the 2019 road works programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith

(Details Supplied) NECESSARY UPGRADING OF THE EAST WEST ROUTE FROM COOTEHILL, CO. CAVAN TO SHERCOCK/CARRICKMACROSS/DUNDALK

REPLY

Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.

This year I have given an allocation of €25,000 to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake appraisal work, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route.  The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021.

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For Oral Answer on : 24/04/2018

Question Number(s): 34 Question Reference(s): 17740/18

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport

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 QUESTION

 To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the discussions held to date at national and EU level in relation to the possibility of having cohesion funding post-2020 provided for road developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith

REPLY

 While the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for EU Cohesion Policy and the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, at the outset I think I should clarify the position regarding the Cohesion Fund. This Fund is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. For the 2014-2020 period, the countries which qualify for the Cohesion Fund are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. As a budget contributor, Ireland does not qualify for Cohesion funding.

I am, however, fully engaged in exploring future EU funding options for the transport sector. Following the publication of the National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, Minister Donohoe and I wrote a joint letter in February to Transport Commissioner Bulc and Regional Policy Commissioner Cretu emphasising the considerable challenges facing Ireland in the transport sector and setting out how the NDP and NPF will inform future investments into the regions, including the West, Border and North West regions which will be particularly impacted by Brexit. We made the point that investment in infrastructure has the potential to mitigate the implications of Brexit in these regions.

Over the coming years, Ireland will continue to prioritise key projects on the Core and Comprehensive networks under the National Development Plan with the objective of enhancing connectivity between the Comprehensive and Core networks and thereby enhancing the sustainability and connectivity of our outermost regions and our connectivity to Northern Ireland.

The Connecting Europe Framework (CEF) is the EU funding instrument developed specifically to direct investment into European transport, energy and digital infrastructures to address identified missing links and bottlenecks. Preparations are underway for CEF 2 and my Department has been participating fully in that process. In this regard the Department wrote to the European Commission in March with its comments on the Commission’s draft proposals. This letter again stressed Ireland’s reliance on its road network and the need for investment in strategic road links.

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