An Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Cavan last week with Cathaoirleach John Paul Feeley in the background.

Martin ‘confident’ Virginia bypass will progress

The Taoiseach says he’s confident of progress with the long awaited Virginia bypass project, writes Eddie Butler.

Surveying work of roads, waterways and other features in the area is currently taking place, as Cavan County Council says the project “is currently approaching the end of the Option Selection Phase”.

A spokesperson for the local authority has confirmed that site investigation works are underway after commencing in late September. Topographical surveys will soon be conducted at various locations along the scheme corridor.

Archaeological geophysical surveys and environmental surveys will be carried out later this year or in early 2023.

The proposed route would see the new bypass built to the north of Virginia town, running from Whitegate to Lisgrey.

However, perceived slow progress on the planning and design work, coupled with ongoing inflation and rising construction prices, have led to concern locally that the long-awaited and much-needed bypass might not go ahead.

On a visit to Cavan in recent days, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there is provision within the National Development Plan (NDP) to meet unexpected costs. “The NDP is quite robust, there are significant resources there. Some projects come through late, some come through early so I’d be confident within the National Development Plan the resources will be there.”

It’s expected construction, if approved, is years away, with final designs to be completed and an oral hearing to be carried out by An Bord Pleanála.

Approval from Transport Infrastructure Ireland will be needed prior to further planning and design work taking place, however, the N3’s inclusion in the National Development Plan means that is likely only a formality.

However, the Taoiseach admitted the planning process for vital infrastructure projects like the Virginia bypass could be sped up. “Obviously I can’t determine what happens within the planning frameworks but it’s a general issue that we need to get projects through the planning much faster than is the case.”