Fears long-awaited bypass will fall victim to cuts

FEARS are increasing that a long-awaited €137 million bypass road for Kerry’s county town due to start next year will fall victim to government cutbacks.

Last month in Castleisland, where he officially opened a new bypass, Defence Minister Tony Killeen pledged work would commence on the Tralee bypass early in 2011.

Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae has also listed the Tralee project among the conditions for his continuing support of the beleaguered Government.

And last March, in a letter to Kerry County Council, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said construction work would start next year.

But following the announcement in the Four-Year National Recovery Plan of substantial transport programme cutbacks, doubts were raised in Kerry yesterday about the Tralee road relief scheme progressing.

Nationally, no major road schemes will start in 2012-2013 and there will be no construction work on other public transport projects not already started, with the exception of the Dublin-Navan rail line extension.

Tralee Labour councillor Arthur Spring said while he believed Mr Killeen was genuine and had understood Tralee’s traffic problems, there were concerns work on the bypass may not start as planned.

“The Government has announced there will be no capital spending on major road projects and, for that reason, this project will probably not go ahead. But it will go ahead eventually,” Mr Spring remarked.

A project had to be a priority at cabinet level to the get the green light, he maintained.

However, Tralee Fine Gael councillor Jim Finucane said he had been given assurances by the National Roads Authority that the bypass would go ahead and he was confident that would be the case.

Traffic congestion has been a daily problem in Tralee for years, but a bypass would divert more than 9,000 vehicles per day from the town.

Land has been acquired for the bypass which would encircle much of Tralee and intersect the Killorglin, Killarney and Listowel roads.

Meanwhile, Castleisland business people and residents have called for better signposting — to ensure potential shoppers will not bypass their town.

They claim trade is being lost because of insufficient signage on the Limerick side of a new bypass to show people the way to the town centre.

Castleisland councillor Bobby O’Connell (FG) said the signposting was a farce and local businesses were furious.

“People driving in from the Limerick side who don’t know how to get to the town centre are being sent off on the bypass. This is ridiculous and damaging for business in Castleisland,” he said.

Mr O’Connell is to ask Kerry County Council and the National Roads Authority to improve signage.

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