Cloongullane Bridge, Swinford

Fresh call for funding for 'shocking' Mayo infrastructure deficit

A FRESH call has been made for the provision of funding the construction of a new bridge at Cloongullane, just outside Swinford on the N26, and that work commence on the planning of an orbital route for Ballina.

Senator Michelle Mulherin said if one looks at north and east County Mayo, one will see there is a serious road infrastructure deficit in the area, and there is a reason for that.

She elaborated: “The roads to which I refer are the N26, a national primary road, which connects with the N59, a national secondary road.

“The reason for this road infrastructure deficit, as history will show, is that we could not get planning permission for the N26, stage 2, over the line, and this goes back in 2010.

“It would have gone from Mount Falcon, just outside Ballina, to Bohola. If we had got permission, I would not be asking now for funds for the bridge and to begin the orbital route.

“I refer to the environmental designation. The River Moy is a special area of conservation and in 2010 An Bord Pleanála deemed the road to be over-designed and it wanted to protect whooper swans.

“Since then, I am glad to say that TII and the council went back to the drawing board and decided that they would try to do it in segments, and not on the same scale.

“I was not in agreement with that because a proper road into the area is required, but we now have planning permission for Cloongullane, again after much delay over environmental designation.

“Since 2010, approximately €10 million has been spent on planning on a road and not a sod has been turned. That is pretty serious, and it is because of environmental designation.

“The N26 was the number one priority road in the whole of County Mayo but because of the refusal by An Bord Pleanála, it went into the waste paper basket. That does not take from the case that we need it, and that case still stands. The issue is environmental designation.

“Cloongullane Bridge was not built in the last century but the century before. It is absolutely shocking. Two vehicles cannot pass on it. The bridge has been clipped by the HGVs that travel this road to and from the multinationals, including from Swinford. Something has to be done.

“This road should not be part of the national primary network. Traffic on the N58, which feeds into Foxford, would have been alleviated by the 2010 plan. Speed limits on the road have been reduced because it is such a winding road. There is a road safety issue here.

“In terms of this area thriving economically and socially going forward, there is a lot of wherewithal there. There is a very good chamber of commerce in Ballina and there are traders' groups in Foxford and Swinford. There is can-do attitude there, but the road cannot be built without funding.

“I hope the traffic bedlam at Cloongullane Bridge and going into Ballina every day of the week will be addressed and that we will see construction at Cloongullane this year and the beginning of the orbital route for Ballina."