Virginia bypass set to progress to next stage

DESIGN ‘Preferred option’ for route to be advertised before summer

The “preferred option” for the proposed N3 Virginia bypass is expected to be advertised before summer.

Cavan County Council staff are currently concluding investigations and surveys to inform the next phase of the scheme, focusing on design and potential environmental impact. These outcomes will be considered by the Project Team once designing the road alignment and proposed mitigation measures are taken into account.

Towards the end of last year the local authority issued tenders to appoint Archaeological Consultancy Services to assist in delivering a geophysical survey in relation to the proposed bypass scheme.

IGSL Ltd also carried out site investigation works at various locations, while TST Engineering Ltd headed up the topographical surveys.

IDASO Ltd completed traffic surveys back in May last year.

It follows a third period of public consultation completed in August-September 2021.

From the five initial route options, the ‘Emerging Preferred Option Corridor’ (EPOC) was published in August 2021 ahead of the current design stage beginning. The proposed route will see the new bypass built to the north of Virginia town.

‘Route C’ as it is known will also connect to Burrencarragh and the R195 Oldcastle road, and could include as many as three roundabouts, located at either end, with another forming a junction at the R178 Bailieborough Road unless overpassed.

Paddy Connaughton, Director of Services for Transportation, Environment and Water Services, confirmed to The Anglo-Celt: “The N3 Virginia bypass is currently nearing the end of Phase 2, Option Selection, of Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s Project Management Guidelines. We anticipate that the preferred option will be advertised in spring/summer of this year, subject to approvals.”

Once Phase 2 is “complete”, the council says it will seek approval to progress the scheme to Phase 3: Design and Environmental Evaluation, which will involve figuring out the volume of land required to deliver the project.

“Phase 3 will involve further development of the scheme, including design of the road, identifying the land take required, junction design, and the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment.

“During this phase, further engagement with landowners and interested parties will be undertaken as part of the ongoing design process.”

The bypass is a key commitment for the region under the Government’s Ireland 2040 plan. JB Barry Transportation Ltd is tasked with guiding the project through the initial phases.

The final phases (5-7) will require a multi-disciplinary consultancy team and take into account the substantial increase in traffic volume along the M3/N3. This will be the subject of a separate tendering process, not expected until at least 2024.

Last month An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, gave the government’s commitment to seeing the vital road project progress. He did so following a question put to him by Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD, Niamh Smyth.

“I have been to Virginia many times. It is a lovely town but it needs a bypass,” said An Taoiseach.

“I can give assurance to the deputy that funding will be provided this year to advance that project. It is not possible to do every road project every year. There has to be a pipeline but the priority will be bypassing towns that need a bypass. Virginia is certainly one of those towns.”