Cathedral junction project dealt blow

Cllr Paul Connell.
Long running plans to overhaul one of Longford town’s busiest junctions has suffered a major setback because the National Roads Authority has not got the money to fund the project.

Long running plans to overhaul one of Longford town’s busiest junctions has suffered a major setback because the National Roads Authority has not got the money to fund the project.

Redesign works at the town’s St Mel’s Cathedral Road Junction had previously been flagged as one of Longford Local Authorties’ key ventures in 2013.

But as she addressed elected representatives at last Tuesday’s April meeting of Longford Town Council, Mayor Cllr Peggy Nolan said those plans were now very much on hold.

They (NRA) didn’t want to know and they were so adamant there was no money for the Cathedral Car Park junction,” she told a near silent chamber.

The Fine Gael councillor was one of around 12 delegates, including council officials, who held talks with road authority chiefs at the end of January.

Cllr Nolan said every possible avenue to try to force an unlikely u-turn on the issue was explored with little success.

“They (NRA) absolutely made it quite clear there is no money and there is new structures within the National Roads Authority and despite the fact we pleaded with them to bring that car park up to a standard of safety within the timeframe of the works that were being carried out at the Cathedral, they weren’t listening. They just don’t have the money so it won’t happen,” she continued to explain.

Evidence of the NRA’s grim financial predicament follows on from details disclosed last December which raised doubts about its ability to fully maintain the country’s new national roads network in 2013.

Reports it was facing a €100m shortfall subsequently forced chief executive Fran Berry to concede certain works across the country would have to be postponed.

One positive, however, councillors drew from last week’s meeting was the proposal from the Town Council’s executive to assign over €630,000 from its own cash reserves.

“It (Cathedral Junction works) has to happen for the people of this town,” added Cllr Nolan. “The people don’t care who does the work whether its the county council, the NRA or Town Council. As far as I am concerned if we have the money, the onus is on us to spend it to bring this town up to a standard that people expect it to be.”

Some, headed by Cllr Paul Connell, said the onus to come up with funding fell solely on the shoulders of the NRA and its most senior executives.

“The NRA has an obligation under safety to finance that junction,” he snapped. “When the Cathedral is fully restored, I believe we (Town Council) will need a pot of money to enhance that whole area.”