The National Roads Authority officials have, at this stage, ruled out the possibility of including a slip road off the new N5 bypass to cater for heavy goods traffic accessing the sewerage treatment plant at Mullagh.
Currently, the heavy goods travel through residential areas and following concerns expressed by local people to local representatives, a proposal for a slip road was made to council officials.
However, speaking at the recent monthly meeting, Director of Services Ciaran Murphy said the NRA have said the proposal has come too late.
Mr Murphy said it is hard to estimate the cost involved, as there are soft ground issues on the site and the road will be higher than the access to the plant, but he put a figure of €700,000 on the proposed new road.
He said the council sent a letter to the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, who in turn referred it to the NRA. “The (NRA) chief executive wrote back basically saying that the time for changes was in the planning process and not during construction.”
Cllr Paul Connell asked why was it not raised during the planning process.
Mr Murphy said planning for the bypass started ten years ago and suggested that number of lorries accessing the treatment plant would not have been an issue at the time.
He added that the N5 bypass is a strategic route, providing for traffic between N4 and N5 and not intended to provide local access for the plant.
Cllr Peggy Nolan pointed out that Mullagh bridge has been deemed unsafe for heavy goods traffic. She suggested that the money set aside to fix that bridge should be put toward the slip road.
Cllr Mae Sexton said the effort should be made to find the extra €700,000 on the €7m project.
“The openings are right beside each others. It makes us look like fools; it makes the council a laughing stock because everybody I have spoken to on it is saying ‘is that the kind of schemes that we have in this county that we didn’t identify the need for that slip road?’”
Cllr Alan Mitchell proposed that the discussion should be left over for a joint-meeting of Longford Town and Co Council’ s mid-Longford members.
Meanwhile, speaking at the Town Council meeting last week, Cllr Mick Connellan, who first raised the issue, said he received a letter from the National Roads Authority (NRA) which indicated clearly that it was not responsible for the construction of a slip road to the town’s sewerage treatment facility from the new N5 Bypass.
“It estimates that the slip road will cost €0.7m and I would like details on how this figure was reached,” he said. “The NRA also say that they are not responsible for the slip road and that Longford is responsible for its construction. I think there are bye laws in place and I don’t think that they can be amended.”