Cork North West TD, Michael Creed has raised the importance of progressing the N22 bypass project with Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar TD, during a topical issues debate on the matter. Speaking during the debate Deputy Creed said:
“The realignment of the N22 is a critical piece of regional infrastructure. The work stretches from the eastern side of Macroom town, at Coolcower, to the western side of Ballyvourney to Sliabh Riabhach, and represents approximately 40 km of realignment involving five roundabouts and 20 bridges. This is a significant piece of infrastructure that will cost €200 million plus. I thank the Minister for his assistance in progressing this project to date. I thank him particularly for dealing with the CPOs that have been issued to landowners and their entitlement to a goodwill payment. As far as I am aware, all of the landowners along the route have, by and large, co-operated fully over a long number of years. As the Minister is aware, the project was delayed for a significant period in the courts, but this was beyond the control of the landowners.
“Most towns, like Macroom, have a natural hinterland which drives their economic development. Macroom is hindered by the lack of a bypass. Most of its western residents are pulled towards Killarney and most of its eastern residents are pulled towards Cork City, simply because of heavy traffic congestion in the centre of the town. A number of fatalities have occurred in the town, and in the past week an elderly citizen was knocked down because of congestion. A number of pinch points need to be addressed and will be addressed in the context of the bypass.
“We need to make up for the lost years. This project was drip-fed during the so-called boom years of the Celtic tiger during the previous Administration. We have an opportunity now to hitch our wagon to other infrastructural projects locally, particularly the Dunkettle interchange, which has a high ranking with the NRA. We need to catch up and I would like the Minister to assist us in this regard by working with the NRA and directing it to fast-track this project so that both projects can be bundled together”.
In his response Minister Varadkar said:
“The N22 project is the Ballyvourney to Macroom improvement scheme which aims to bypass Macroom town and involves the construction of 43 km of new carriageway from the end of the Ballincollig bypass to Ballyvourney. The project was the subject of a judicial review against approval of the scheme, but the legal challenge has been rejected. As a result, notices to treat have been served on affected landowners who, as Deputy Michael Creed mentioned, will be eligible for the goodwill payment as it went to An Bord Pleanála many years ago. I thank him for raising the matter with me some weeks ago. This means that once the land is bought, the project will be shovel ready. The NRA has made an allocation of €400,000 in respect of this project for 2013.
I have had some discussions with the NRA on the matter with a view to pursuing it as a public private partnership. The intention is to go ahead with the Gort to Tuam road project which is first on the list and has already gone to tender and then to deal with the New Ross and Gorey to Enniscorthy projects. As the Macroom to Ballyvourney and Dunkettle projects are the only ones with full planning permission – at that stage the land will be purchased – it is planned to pursue them either separately or as a bundle under a public private partnership scheme”