N4 upgrade issues emerge for Longford residents and landowners

Alan Walsh

Reporter:

Alan Walsh

Email:

alan.walsh@longfordleader.ie

N4 upgrade issues emerge for Longford residents and landowners

Residents and landowners are unhappy about a lot of issues in relation to the N4 Mullingar to Longford (Roosky) project which is at public consultation stage in relation the Route Corridor Option.

Senator Micheál Carrigy outlined that he held a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, February 16, with over 100 attendees, where it was made "very clear that people are very dissatisfied with the information which has been made available on this public consultation."

He added that there were also concerns "that this information is now only available on line which does not suit everyone especially our more elderly citizens who may not have access to these files."

The existing 52km section of the N4 is a single carriageway road that passes through or close to Ballinalack, Rathowen, Edgeworthstown, Longford and Newtownforbes.

Previously a Preferred Route Corridor and Route Selection report were published in July 2010 but at that time the National Roads Authority (NRA) advised that due to funding restrictions further work on the project was to be suspended.

Twelve Route Corridor Options have now been shortlisted for consideration and a project website has been set up specifically -  www.n4mullingartolongford.ie 

The public consultation phase on the route options opened on February 1 and was due to close on March 19. 

Both Deputy Joe Flaherty and Senator Carrigy called on Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to extend the consultation period, and on Wednesday night, February 17, Deputy Flaherty announced that he been informed by by the TII Mullingar - Longford N4 upgrade team that the March 19 consultation period deadline will not be enforced. 
"This six week period is non statutory and the team have have assured the public that any submissions or observations or queries will be accepted after the stated March 19 deadline," outlined Deputy Flaherty.
Senator Carrigy said he would be also asking the local authorities "to ensure that they provide a countywide information campaign on the N4 upgrade project to ensure that citizens are aware that this consultation period is taking place and they need to have their say.”
Deputy Flaherty, who is holding a 'virtual' parish hall style meeting this Thursday, February 25 from 8pm where the N4 upgrade will be discussed, said: “There is a high level of anxiety. The public want to examine and tease out the detail of the scheme but fear that Covid-19 restrictions are impeding these efforts.”
He outlined that the project team have put together a decent online  portal “but it simply isn’t sufficient in these Covid times.”
He added: “Members of the public are struggling with low quality maps; they may not have access to printers at the moment and certainly haven’t been able to meet as a community to discuss concerns.”
“This is the single biggest infrastructural project for the region and provision needs to be made to amend the timeline for consultation in light of Covid-19 restrictions. The various route options must be fully examined  and the public given every chance to do so.”  
The N4 Mullingar to Longford (Rooskey) project will alleviate congestion along the route, improve journey times and allow for safer and more reliable journeys for road users, including vulnerable users and users of road-based public transport.
The proposed project represents over 25% of the N4/M4 corridor and remains the largest unimproved section of this route.
The N4 serves a vast geographical area and provides a strategic function in terms of connecting the West and Northwest regions of Ireland to the Midlands and the East.
It provides access to peripheral areas of the country including Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo and Donegal; Cavan via the N55 and Mayo via the N5 at Longford. Many businesses in these areas depend on the N4 corridor for access to both national and international markets.
The public consultation format has been adapted to ensure compliance with Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions. Details and information in relation to the Route Corridor Options are being made available online through a virtual public consultation experience on the project website www.n4mullingartolongford.ie.
Feedback on the Route Corridor Options can be submitted on-line through the virtual public consultation platform or by making a submission by email or post. For further details on the Route Corridor Options see: www.n4mullingartolongford.ie or email: info@n4mullingartolongford.ie
If you do not have internet or email access contact the project team on 086 059 9895 (9am to 5pm Monday - Friday) or alternatively you can write to ROD-AECOM, Unit 23C Lough Sheever Corporate Park, Robinstown, CoWestmeath N91 V340