The National Roads Authority has approved €250,000 to complete the design for the Mountmellick Inner Relief Road. The stage will then be set for the NRA to proceed to the compulsory purchase stage.
The long awaited news has been met by approval by most people and is viewed as being the way forward to develop the town of Mountmellick.
However, Mr John Joe Dunne, chairperson of the MDA, argues that the much needed relief road should take the Derrycloney not the Irishtown route. He claims that nine out of ten measurements in a national roads authority study favoured the longer Derrycloney route and that the initial cost was the only factor that supported the Irishtown option.
He also stated, earlier this year, that he doubts the council could achieve its aim of having the relief road through Irishtown completed by 2006. Meanwhile, traffic volumes would continue to increase in the area.
Paschal Griffin of the NRA confirmed that the preferred route option for the relief road is option A which will begin at the bridge by the MDA on the N80 Pearse Street, run in a north westerly direction crossing Manor Street, where it veers in a northerly direction crossing Wolfe Tone Street and finishes just east of the graveyard on the Tullamore Road.
Deputy John Moloney welcomed the news. He stated that last December he called a meeting with Minister Seamus Brennan, Mr Michael Tobin, chief executive of the NRA, his deputy Michael Egan, Mr Martin Riordan, county manager, Mr Michael O’Hora, engineer, and Mr Gerry Gibson, director of services, to prioritise support for the road.
He went on to say: “I am pleased that the NRA and the council remain supportive, and contrary to rumour the selected route remains the same. I have been campaigning for this route for a number of reasons. One is that it will resolve the traffic difficulties in Mountmellick and a traffic free Mountmellick will attract commercial investment.”
At present Deputy Moloney is in talks with landowners and developers who, he said, are interested in locating in Mountmellick.
“Part of their agenda will be the provision of a shopping centre and amenity services necessary to revitalise the town. Those same developers will not wait around a traffic congested town,” he warned.
The NRA also announced that the Monasterevin by-pass was expected to be completed by the end of 2004, well ahead of schedule.
Deputy Sean Fleming said: “I am delighted by the NRA’s announcement regarding plans for work on both the national primary and secondary routes in Laois in 2004. This funding will be a major boost to improving road infrastructure in the county.”