Plans for safety works on two dangerous stretches on national secondary roads in north Cork have been mothballed because Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has said it hasn’t got the money to fund the projects.
The news is likely to incite hauliers, who previously carried out protests on one of the stretches of roads over safety concerns and damage being done to their trucks.
Councillors attending a meeting of the Northern Division reacted angrily to the announcement, especially as their local authority engineers had already drawn up plans for safety improvements on foot of previous TII commitments.
They were told by council engineers that TII wouldn’t now commit to the projects on the N72 (Fermoy – Mallow road) and N73 (Mitchelstown – Mallow road) “due to funding uncertainty”.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Frank O’Flynn, said it was a “disgrace” that the planned realignment of the N73 from Clogher Cross to Waterdyke, near Shanballymore, wasn’t going ahead.
“My worst fears are now being realised,” Mr O’Flynn said. “We were told on numerous occasions that it was starting this autumn. Who were they (TII) codding? This is one of the most important routes in North Cork.”
He proposed the council seek a meeting with TII and write to the ministers for transport and public expenditure highlighting the need for this project and another safety project on the N72 between Carrig and Ballygriffin, near Killavullen, which has also been mothballed by TII.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Deirdre O’Brien, described the Clogher Cross – Waterdyke section as “just a dirt track”.
“Disappointment wouldn’t describe my feelings,” Fine Gael councillor, Kay Dawson, said. “There are health and safety issues with it. Are we waiting for somebody to die on it? It’s just not good enough.”
Lorry drivers carried out a protest on that section of road some months ago.
Independent councillor, Frank Roche, said he had persuaded the hauliers not to continue with the protests because he thought funding was forthcoming.
“I don’t think I can now hold them off any longer,” Mr Roche said. “Their trucks are being wrecked. The hauliers will not accept this and I’m certainly not accepting it.”
Fine Gael’s Noel McCarthy said “TII are absolutely ignoring us”, while Fianna Fáil’s Pat Hayes said “that section of road is absolutely lethal”.
Padraig Barrett, the council’s director of roads, said a lot of preparatory work had been undertaken by local authority engineers on the N73 project, which included land acquisition and acquiring planning permission.
He said the council had been ready to go to tender on the project.
“TII are concerned they may not have that money and that’s why they haven’t given us the money,” Mr Barrett said. “I appreciate the (council) members’ frustration. I can assure you it’s shared by the staff of Cork County Council.”
He said the county mayor and senior council officials were organising a meeting with TII to discuss a number of projects which needed funding, and the works on the N72 and N73 would be raised at that meeting.