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N17 - Knock to Collooney [design & planning underway]



  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,307 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox

    Truth be told, we need the parties to sit down and talk through the issues themselves and come up with a cross party plan that will survive through elections and changes of Government.

    No chance of that happening though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 236 ✭✭I told ya

    To somewhat quote a Kerry TD:

    "To legislate nationally, you must first get elected locally".

    Now join the dots = all politics are local.

    For a minister to fail to deliver in his/her constitutancy, reelection might prove difficult.

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 14,383 Mod ✭✭✭✭marno21

    Politics is a core tenet of discussion on this forum though, because all roads investment decisions are political at the end of the day. It's just that they've become a lot more political since 2020 because you have a Minister for Transport who is anti-roads despite him being responsible for their care and improvement.

    If you look back through this forum it was all the talks of the roads programme being cut after the recession, the slow reboot of roads improvement, but since 2016 we've had 2 appalling Ministers for Transport and it really shows. First Shane Ross and his general incompetence, and then Ryan and his ideological approach to governance.

    Re: your 2nd point. It's a very fair point to make, the people in TII (NTA less relevant on this forum) are qualified and experts at civil engineering and roads, and have institutional knowledge of the Irish national road network. They know far more about the ins and outs of the network, and what's right to do and what's not right to do. They've done a very good job (with the odd hiccup) and have delivered plenty of effective projects on tine and on budget. The CEO of TII has 40 years of civil engineering experience and it really shows. They really do know what they're doing. Less can be said about the Minister. The big issue with Ryan is his overruling of NTA/TII decisions based on what he thinks is right despite well paid consultants and the NTA spendiing lengthy time making evidence based decisions. (See Limerick Northern Distributor Road, but we won't get into it here. Hint: if you hate roads too and are against it on those grounds, tell me a quick way to get from UL to Corbally or the Ennis Road on a bus).

    Re: the N17. There's a deeper issue here, and while Ryan isn't helping, as I posted on the thread I made last week, there was a plan in the "National Development Plan 2018-2027" to develop 45 roads projects, but it's completely infeasible to do so under current funding levels. I hypothesized on that thread that I reckon 15 projects currently in planning stand a good chance of being under construction by 2027, the N17 not being one of them.

    I think it may be time for the Government to get the private sector involved again and develop a set of PPPs for the big ticket N2, N4, N17 and N24 upgrades. I don't want to debate the financial merits of it but I really don't see how we're going to get them built in the next 15-20 years under current financial constraints and it would be a nice alternative to traffic jams and people getting killed on the roads.

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 14,383 Mod ✭✭✭✭marno21

    The new Sinn Fein Transport spokesperson (who MLMD in the press conference said would be SF's prospective Cabinet) is from N17 country.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    No different than in the South. A lot of projects in limbo. Too many to mention.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    Wait for election season is my guess. Everything will get rolled out again.

    I'm looking forward to the third or fourth turning of the sod at the cork events centre, personally.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,820 ✭✭✭Pete_Cavan

    "I think it may be time for the Government to get the private sector involved again and develop a set of PPPs for the big ticket N2, N4, N17 and N24 upgrades. I don't want to debate the financial merits of it but I really don't see how we're going to get them built in the next 15-20 years under current financial constraints and it would be a nice alternative to traffic jams and people getting killed on the roads."

    The solution here should be to make things less complicated rather than more complicated. Now that a route corridor has been identified, they should be looking to take sections of it which can be delivered independently of the rest. The N52 and N55 show how significant upgrades can be delivered in an efficient and low-key manner, a similar approach could be used for much of this route.

  • Registered Users Posts: 68,514 ✭✭✭✭L1011

    None of those would be worthwhile on a toll basis, and currently the state can borrow for less than the private sector - so a PPP that the state has to fund entirely (no tolls) would be throwing money away

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,021 ✭✭✭il gatto

    Obviously Limerick to Cork should’ve had a motorway many years ago and there’s other projects that need to happen but spending any time in the south, it’s leagues ahead of the northwest. You have to start taking regional roads and even local roads to find what often passes for a national primary route in the northwest.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,439 ✭✭✭✭cson

    Its embarrassing the dearth of substantial infrastructure projects completed in a period of relative prosperity for the country.

    The Government crowing about setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund while at the same time we can't get an M20 or a airport metro built. Not that they should be mutually exclusive but the parish politics, ABP situation and general humming and hawing is depressing.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    I don't think a comparison is easy. My two cents...

    You're right about the general quality of the roads compared with their stated purpose. Completed primary/regional infrastructure is in the South is better than what's in the Northwest. Exactly like you say, what passes for a regional in the Northwest would sometimes be a local in the South. And what passes for a primary in the Northwest might be a regional in the South.

    But at the same time the population and its needs is also very different between both. In the Northwest you're talking about linking remote disparate small towns very long distances using a national network of primary roads. The overall population is very low. You have things like the N5/N58/N26 triangle which make no real sense.

    In the South you just get large populations linked well and then areas of nothing. When you go off the beaten track there are no primaries. You get roads like the Cousane that are de-facto primary but not in name/quality. Cobh doesn't get a primary (correct) but Claremorris and Ballinrobe both do (incorrect, should probably just be one).

    So I'd guess there's way more primary road distance in the Northwest, covering around the same area. And a third of the population. So when you compare both in terms of quality you get a weird mismatch. I was comparing in terms of need (population) and there's a mismatch there too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,518 ✭✭✭KrisW1001

    I suspect that the Northwest gets more road spending per capita (because of the low population) than the south of the country, but the difference is not enough to compensate for the much larger national road network per capita.

    To show what I mean, compare Cork with Mayo. About 520 km of the National road network lies within Cork city and county, while Mayo contains 390 km of the National road network. Cork has more roads, but not that much, really.

    But here's the big difference: the population of County Cork is about 580,000 people; Mayo, on the other hand has 140,000 residents (2022 figures for both). So, while County Mayo's national road network is 80% of the length of Cork's, its population is barely 25% of Cork's.

    If funding were on the basis of population alone, the Northwest would be much worse off compared to the more populated South and East, but the National road network has big clue in its name, and (usually!) the spending is based on the needs of the network as a whole, and there are nationally-important reasons to invest in roads that don't really serve very many people, but provide essential connections between regions. Whether a road is part of the national network or not has very little to do with catchment, or average traffic - it's about which route provides the best link to the rest of the country.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,018 ✭✭✭timmyntc

    As you pointed out, the national road network is about the network as a whole - which is why traffic volumes drive these decisions as to whether roads need upgrading or not.

    That and safety records. For both criteria, the case for the N17 upgrade is impossible to ignore.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    Absolutely right. Which is why a comparison is really difficult and probably unhelpful. Comparing area, population, roads km, nothing works well. Comparing South with Dublin region isn't easy either.

    Think the current roads architecture in the Northwest makes little sense for the modern era and there's a splatter of parallel "National" routes in a kind of "something for everyone" kind of way. If there was consolidation of the National routes in Mayo particularly and de-rating of some of the others I think it would work out for the better. But right now it's loads of low-AADT low-quality "national" roads.

    Anyway back to my original point, which was that the number of projects in limbo in the North West is very much the same story as down here in the South. It's mostly just a story of too little moving anywhere unfortunately. I don't think it's a localised phenomenon at all unfortunately.

  • Registered Users Posts: 313 ✭✭lotusm

    Sligo/Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry raises shelving of N17 project in the Dáil: ‘Eamon Ryan is running around like a headless chicken’

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 14,383 Mod ✭✭✭✭marno21

    Three PQs on the N17 to the Minister for Transport today. In addition to MacSharry's Topical Issue earlier in the week. A lot of racket being made about this scheme in particular.

    (Of course, Eamon Ryan isn't there to answer for himself and has let Jack Chambers answer for him).

  • Registered Users Posts: 780 ✭✭✭Westernview

    Hard to disagree with what MacSharry is saying there. It's the N17 after all, not some low volume route in the corner of a county that could be deemed less important.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I can confirm that €400,000 has been allocated for the N17 Knock to Collooney scheme in 2023. The close out of the route options selection reporting is ongoing, and an emerging preferred corridor is expected to be completed in Q3 2023. Additional tasks including traffic modelling, and reporting are also ongoing. As with the National Roads Project in the National Development Plan, the delivery programme for the project will be kept under review for 2024. The scheme remains part of the National Development Plan, and will be considered in terms of the overall funding available to TII in future years.

    Certainly doesn't sound "shelved"

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,005 Mod ✭✭✭✭spacetweek

    It was never shelved, Ryan is just very bad at messaging.

  • Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 10,307 Mod ✭✭✭✭CatInABox

    Yes, that's what I said at the time, and it really looks like it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    Apologies: political rant deleted.

    Just that the lack of any messaging over the last while has been extraordinary. Things that are moving ahead: no comment. Things that are getting stopped: no comment. Could well be the case here again.

  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 14,383 Mod ✭✭✭✭marno21

    Let me add some nuance

    1. This project isn't a "town bypass" scheme. Eamon Ryan doesn't like schemes which don't fit these profiles, and these have been shelved because he doesn't seem to care for road safety considerations unless it involves regulations or speed limit reductions. The 2 party leaders have made it clear by now that they aren't going to stand up to him in situations like this, regardless of constituency political considerations.
    2. TII are having to make do with limited funding for at least the next 18 months. Based on this, they seem to have afforded a particular level of priority to 15 schemes for this time, to advance those rather than spreading the jam too thin. Based on my considerable research on this, I have made a shortlist of the prioritised schemes in this thread:

    On the other side of the coin, it's clear that Sligo County Council are in agreement that there is no chance of this scheme actually being built in the near while, and the issue seems to be over SCC's request for funding to apply to An Bord Pleanala for this scheme in 2028.

    “Council roads staff told the meeting that in order to progress the project from Phase 2 Option Selection, to Phase 4 Planning, it is projected that allocations of €2.5million would be required for 2024, €3.0million for 2025, €1.2million for 2026 and €1million for both 2027 and 2028. That is a total sum of less than €8.7 million over a five year period.

    Not providing this level of funding is taking the piss imo. There is absolutely no reason why a project like this cannot be allocated the sums above. There will be no demands for construction money into the 2030s and if they think the project will take that long to get the planning & design work done on it, then if it's not funded now it'll be the mid to late 2030s before progress is made on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,021 ✭✭✭il gatto

    But this is where your position is undermined. The north west has routes classed as National Primary Routes that are not built or maintained to that standard. It’s like being given a promotion at work only to find out you didn’t get a pay rise. Nobody cares what they’re called if they are not fit for purpose. The N17 is not fit for purpose. And that’s not just the locals saying it. It’s been deemed substandard for years.

    And you picked a conveniently disparate set of counties. How about Mayo and Waterford? Waterford has 10k less people in the county and has a motorway. Mayo does not. What about Donegal and Wexford? Donegal has a slightly bigger population than Wexford. Wexford has a motorway. Donegal does not.

    And motorways do not just serve their final destinations. Many of those smaller towns in the north west have not grown precisely because they have poor transport links. Sligo town has grown a mere 25% in the last half century. The population is relatively lower because there has been little growth economically and people are forced to move away.

    If it’s purely based on numbers, there should be consistency. There’s half a million people in the north west and not a single motorway close to it. And nobody is expecting one. But the N17 is a cart pass and the only main road travelling north/south through the region. Meanwhile half that population in the south east has two motorways. Figures cut both ways.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    It's almost like I should have thought to write something like: "a comparison is really difficult and probably unhelpful. Comparing area, population, roads km, nothing works well."

    You're trying all sorts of comparisons (Wexford V Donegal, Waterford V Mayo, Sligo growth rate) but there's nothing that really works. It can suffice to say instead that there's a big chunk of the country that's not fulfilling its potential or pulling its weight economically because of a lack of core infrastructure. And you can then tag large parts of the country that this statement applies to.

    Look I travel in the Northwest quite a lot. I am not saying that the infrastructure there is good. I don't think I ever insinuated that we shouldn't invest in the Northwest.

    What I am saying - repeatedly - that it isn't a case of "the North West currently being ignored compared with everywhere else". Infrastructure investment basically stalled. Projects are stalled all over the country. That's what I've said about five times now but for some reason people keep coming back with "but what about the Northwest". Yes also in the Northwest. The areas that got their completed infrastructure in the boom times are way ahead of those areas that didn't. N20, N22, N25, N75, the list goes on and on.

    We can keep making comparisons between the Northwest and the South (Southeast in this case?) but there's honestly no good comparison. To refute your comparisons specifically, in terms of economic output the Northwest was historically of low quality land and low investment with resulting low economic output, the quality of roads infrastructure didn't cause that it merely carries on with a bad practice. And comparing Donegal with Wexford is not reasonable: there's about 5 reasons why that comparison doesn't work. Try comparing Donegal with West Cork instead maybe, as these two areas are more comparable. Waterford is a great point you made: I think Waterford does have unusually good infrastructure, and I believe this was possibly down to ministerial interference during the boom times. It was possibly lucky too that many of its major towns were on routes to other major destinations. But now try comparing Waterford with Cork and see how it goes! Waterford is an aberration. Sligo was missing an awful lot of things to hinder its growth but even taking that as an example, it's currently roughly the same size as Tralee, and in 1971 it was roughly the same size as...Tralee. I'd see massive similarities between both towns actually.

    So again, I travel and work in the Northwest a lot, and I'll often hear things like "we're ignored here". Believe me, you'll hear exactly the same comments down the Southwest and in the South. And guess what: you'll even get those comments in parts of Dublin. So it's not a localisation thing, that's what I keep saying over and over again.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    I mean it's big money obviously, but for infrastructure that's small money.

    I don't understand though: who does that funding come from? I would have assumed TII, no?

  • Registered Users Posts: 780 ✭✭✭Westernview

    Comparing regions in my view is perfectly reasonable. Comparing towns in different regions is not very useful based on scale. The state of a region affects so many people. A town mainly affects people in its hinterland.

    The EU judges the fortunes of citizens on a regional basis too. In recent years the Northwestern region has actually regressed from 'Developed region' to 'Region in transition'. So saying thats its just a case that projects are stalled everywhere simply isnt true and doesn't explain what's happening.

    The only way to address this is with positive discrimination in spending on a regressed region. Projects like the N17 affect the entire region and therefore should have greater priority. Even if a town in Cork or Kerry is not doing any better than one in a disadvantaged region its still has advantages of being in a more prosperous region and it has more opportunity to progress.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,021 ✭✭✭il gatto

    Comparing Donegal and Wexford is not reasonable? Two counties with an equivalent population is not a valid comparison?

    Tralee’s population has almost doubled in the last 50 years. About an 85% increase.

    Why West Cork? There isn’t a town in West Cork bigger than Bandon with a population of just 7,000. It’s also part of a county with a large city with a motorway to Dublin and an international airport. Bantry is just over an hour from Cork city. Donegal has a town of 20,000 people, is isolated from it’s natural urban centre, Derry, by a political border and has no major city within it with ample transport links. Its largest town is 2.5hrs from the nearest motorway and that includes leaving the jurisdiction. It’s over 3hrs if you stay in the country.

    For sure, people everywhere complain about how they have it worse than everywhere else. But here’s the thing, one of those regions has to actually be the worst. And according to the EU, it’s the north west, who it declared a “lagging region” at the end of last year. And while you say the north west has never pulled its weight economically, in 2006 it had a GDP of 98% of the EU average. Today it stands at just 52%. Disposable income figures for the south west vs the west and border region, as compiled by the CSO, also show a huge disparity.

    So sometimes when people complain, it’s not without good reason and no amount of anecdotal “evidence” overrules the figures.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    Tralee V Sligo population over 50 years, I'm not sure what data you're using, but Google seems to show they're similar sized towns both now and in 1971. Tralee is obviously growing at a higher rate than Sligo overall but considering the town boundary changes I don't consider there to be an enormous difference. In fact, if you go back 20 years instead of 50, Sligo would appear to have a much higher rate of growth. Again, the two towns look to be very similar, I'm happy to be proven wrong though because (as I keep saying) direct comparisons are always problematic.

    1971: Tralee 13,263 Sligo 14,100, a difference of approx. 900 people

    2022: Tralee 20,288 Sligo 19,402, a difference of approx. 900 people

    Donegal and Wexford are extremely different. Donegal has a thin sliver of connectivity to the republic. Donegal has an extensive border with another jurisdiction. Donegal is not a transit point for any other city's shipping. Donegal is not a transit point for another country's shipping. Donegal's lax planning and development patterns are well known. There's an awful lot of reasons Wexford got infrastructure ahead of Donegal.

    Why compare with West Cork? Because both areas are lacking in industry. Both have high volumes of "wilderness" type tourism. Both have poor settlement patterns. Both have poor agricultural land. Both have no major towns or cities nearby. Both are largely coastal communities. Both have reasonably poor infrastructure. There are similarities between both. I wouldn't say West Cork is anything like Wexford. Nor would I say Donegal is very like Wexford.

    Agreed, there is one town in Donegal which is bigger than Bandon. But talking about being "part of a county with a large city with a motorway to Dublin and in international airport" makes little sense. A lot of towns in West Cork are 1.5-2 hours from Cork. To give you a comparison, that's pretty much how far Killybegs is from Derry airport. Places like Schull are 2 hours from the nearest motorway too. You're talking about very remote small fishing towns basically.

    The problem which Donegal has, which you absolutely put your finger on, is that it's isolated from its natural urban area by a political border. It's international politics that are the biggest issue. Wexford isn't a good comparison. Let's be realistic. You basically came around and made that argument yourself by the looks of it?

    I fully accept your point about the North-West being poor performing (maybe poorest performing?), I have zero issues with that. I'm just also saying that it has historically been a poor performing area. I'm not fully convinced 2006, at the height of the celtic tiger and the funny money of that era is a good reference point to how far it's fallen. But feel free to prove me wrong on that.

    This is all 100% totally off-topic of course, and I'm just going to say the same thing again to you once more because I really feel like this is a complete waste of time....

    There's a lot of projects stalled in the North West. There's a lot of projects stalled everywhere. It might look like a conspiracy, but it's not a conspiracy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    I don't mean to be disrespectful to you but I'm a little tired from posting such a lengthy post above.

    I am just going to say that I'm not against positive discrimination, but double of nothing is still nothing. Projects are stalled everywhere. I'm in favour of the N17 project: I'm sick of driving for hours on crappy roads in the North-West too: it's exhausting and dangerous!

    Maybe you all think I'm suggesting not to invest in the Northwest or something weird like that, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that what you're seeing is what we're seeing all around the country. Loads of projects that are crawling forward if at all.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,116 ✭✭✭hans aus dtschl

    Note to self: don't ever point out the severe lack of progress on infrastructure projects countrywide to people in the North West again...