A key new Portlaoise road has the green light to move to the next stage but the Minister responsible, Shane Ross, insists that pace of progress depends on Laois County Council.
Deputy Sean Fleming raised the proposed Southern Circular Route in the Dáil with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. The road is part of a series of link roads that will connect the the Stradbally, Abbeyleix, Timahoe and Mountmellick roads. The new section will run behind the town's new shopping area.
Laois County Council views the road as a vital piece of infrastructure for the town to improve traffic and to help revitalise the town centre. Completion of the road will allow N80 traffic to bypass Portlaoise town centre.
The Fianna Fáil TD wanted to know the money which has been made available in 2016, available for 2017 and proposed for 2018. He also asked if Minister Ross would make make a statement on the matter.
In reply Minister Ross said Laois County Council will fund the road from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
He said route is among the schemes included in the Capital Plan 2016-2021 subject to achieving the necessary project approvals. This includes approval from An Bord Pleanála for the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). He said his Department’s Economic and Financial Evaluation Unit liaised with the Council in respect of the project appraisal.
"This appraisal process was concluded last month and the Council was advised of my Department’s approval to progress the project to the next stage. I understand that this will involve the submission by the Council of the Compulsory Purchase Order relating to the project to An Bord Pleanála for approval," he said.
The Minister said the timescale for the progression of the scheme to construction depends on Laois County Council.
"Once the necessary project approvals are received funding support from my Department for construction of the project will be provided," he said.
As for details of payments Minister Ross directed the Laois TD to Dáil Library for 2016 and 2017 spending. He told Deputy Fleming funding for regional and local road schemes next year will be announced in January 2018.