Landowners notified of compulsory land acquisition along the N55, to bypass the village of Killydoon, have hit out at Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and Cavan County Council over what they claim was a lack of information prior to letters being issued last week, writes Thomas Lyons.
The route for this new section of road was confirmed last week and the local authority hope it will eliminate the last remaining sub-standard sections of the N55 between Ballinagh and the Longford county boundary. The project links the N55 section to the Mullaghoran and Dundavan section - currently being constructed at Ballytrust.
There are 21 local landowners named on the list issued by Cavan council. These are people whose land will be bought up to facilitate the works. Every day 4,000 vehicles travel on the existing road. The new road will be approximately 3,750 metres of single carriageway with three new single span bridge structures over the River Erne.
The people of the area are acceptant of the need for an upgrade of the existing roads. The infrastructure has been under stress for the last number of years. There are sections of the road where large lorries have to stop when they meet as the edges of the roads have been crumbling on the yellow lines.
Any local discontent stems from a perceived lack of engagement by TII with residents prior to the commencement of Section B of the N55 Corduff to South Killydoon Realignment Scheme. The project has been the subject of much discussion since it first came to the table eight years ago, then under the direction of the National Roads Authority (NRA).
Paudie McKenna of Lynch’s Gala store is not among those who will have their property permanently acquired by the State to facilitate the build but his name regularly crops up when people talk of the effect the road works will have on the locality. The new road will bypass the village and, with it, his shop.
Paudie has spoken to the local authority about the plans but the issuing of the public notice about the CPOs has moved the matter forward. “I got no letter, I think everyone else in the parish got a letter,” he says of the latest developments.
“The road is not fit for purpose. The surface and the edges are not suitable for the volume or nature of traffic the road. They [TII] send a random letter every now and then, to say we are progressing but that is about the height of it,” Paudie says of the engagement prior to the letters going out last week.
It’s an anxious time for the shop owner: “What is going to happen to me? I understand something needs to be done with the roads but they are going to take away a percentage of my business. They have said that it may only be 10% or 15%. My reply was ‘if I took away 10% or 15% of your wages how would you feel?’ Whether it is 5% or 50% it has an impact.”
As a rural retailer, he is dependent on passing trade. Discussions with the council suggest his shop will now be in a cul-de-sac. He engaged a road engineer who submitted plans for an “in and out” road onto the N55.
The status of that application is unknown: “Consultation with the public has been poor. The council say the government have bypassed every town and village in the country without compensating businesses and I am no different. That’s the long and the short of it.”
Gus Moyles will lose some of the curtilage of his house in the realignment: “I will go in on May 9,” he says.
Cavan County Council make the plans, maps and orders available for public viewing on that date [Thursday].
Gus says the project has been on the table for quite a while. “In the beginning they [Cavan Council] had a meeting in the Mullahoran Hall. People got to give their ideas, but they had nothing planned at that stage,” he told the Celt.
In the latest communication Gus got an outline of the proposal: “The plan is that they go at the back of my house. There’s a whole red square around my house. I will go in an have a look at speak to someone who will fill me in on what is going to take place.”
Gus wanted to stress that his experience with the local authority has been positive: “As far as I know it’s with An Bord Pleanála at the moment. I have found the council 100% on any dealings I have had with them. They always kept me up to speed on other things they do. I have got very little information but I know they are working on the other end of it. When they get up to this end, it will probably be another story.”
Kathleen Donohoe in the Celt’s Mullahoran correspondent and another name on the list of 21.
“We knew it was coming. They are going right through the middle of our land. When it’s done, I will be looking out on a big bridge. Our farm is split in two. All we will be left with is fragments in bits and pieces.”
Clearly distressed by the encroachment of the road into her family’s life, Kathleen was at a loss to voice her concerns: “I can’t explain how I feel about it, it’s going to be a terrible inconvenience.”
Dairy farmer Paddy Brady will also be severely impacted by the proposed route:
“It’s going right through the middle of our farm. My father owns it, but I’m running a dairy heard on it. It’s going right through -it is destroying it. It’s going to put me from farming altogether,” he told the Celt.
Paddy will feel the effect of the road during construction and when completed: “I could be losing up to 10 or 12 acres. We would not have a whole lot of land as it is but it’s the difference between milking 65 cows to milking none. It’s a livelihood as well as anything else. If the road is closed off, it’s makes it hard to get the milk lorries in and out.”
The dairy farmer feels that the communication with local residents has fallen short: “They had the open meeting in Mullahoran Hall almost two years ago now. It was open to everyone but, since then, no individual has spoken to us about what is going to happen or how we are going to be affected. We got a letter last June to say they were looking into it and we never heard anything until we got the CPO this morning.”
He added that there was a designated contact person and number on the letter from the road design office in the council. “We will be ringing him to find out what is going on or what the process is. You would imagine that he should be ringing us to tell us what is going on,” said Paddy.
He believes the worst-case scenario could force him to move: “It could be a case that I have to sell the whole farm and relocate. That would be a big undertaking. It’s our home as well as everything else. They [TII] don’t seem to mind any of that. For them, it is just the most direct route. It’s just uncertain until we get a little more clarification.”
The plans for the route can be viewed at the planning office of Cavan County Council. Any objector to the order must make their submission to An Bord Pleanála by 5pm on Friday, June 22.
The council and the TII were contacted for comment but none were forthcoming at the time of printing.