At the current rate of allocations, it will take at least three years before enough money is made available to secure land needed to construct a badly needed bypass in mid-Cork.
It has been disclosed that just €5m has been allocated this year to buy land needed for the bypass project in gridlocked Macroom.
The total acquisition cost, alone, of the land required for the 22km stretch of road — which will run from Coolcower east of Macroom to Sliobh Riogh, west of Ballyvourney — has been estimated at €18.5m.
According to the council’s acting director of roads, Aidan Weir, some 120 landowners will require compensation.
He said that, to date, 40 landowners had stuck a deal with the council and payments had been already made to some of them after an allocation from central government of €4m last year. Mr Weir said the council had no date for the start of construction of the dual carriageway.
In land costs alone, a deficit of €9.5m remains so if the funding continues at the current pace, it will be 2018 at least before construction could be considered.
Councillors who met Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe last November had been informed the Macroom bypass was “at or near top priority”.
“This year’s funding allocation, however, slows down progress and drags things out,” said Fianna Fáil councillor Andrias Moynihan. “If funding continues at this pace it will take another three years to buy the land and worse still the council’s roads’ director had no indication when construction would go ahead. The minister wants us to believe we are ‘at or near top priority’. He can talk the talk but he’s not walking the walk.”
Mr Moynihan said the Macroom bypass has been talked about for many years with a number of ministers seeing it through the various milestones from route selection, design to planning.
Mr Moynihan said that, when some legal issues had been overcome in 2013, there had been an expectation the land purchase would progress quickly.
“The ball is now in Mr Donohoe’s court to buy the land and build the road,” said Mr Moynihan. “The council showed they could do one-third of the land deals in a few months last year and, if they were allowed to continue at the same speed, they could finish the land purchase this year.
“Macroom can’t afford to see things slip with the bypass. It’s hugely important that it really would be a priority for the minister. The town has suffered for years from severe traffic congestion.”
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